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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks
Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the China-UK Economic and Trade Forum: Embrace New Era, Open up New Prospects and Scale New Heights
2018/01/19

(City of London, 18 January 2018)

Chairman Sun Yu,
Lord Mayer Alderman Charles Bowman,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good afternoon.

Today is a special day.

In the Chinese culture, 18 is a lucky number. It is believed to promise good fortune, thriving business and bright prospects. Today is January 18, 2018. With these two 18's I am sure our good luck will double.

So, on this auspicious day, I wish to say how delighted I am to join you for the China-UK Economic and Trade Forum organized by the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK. I look forward to lively discussions with you. And I hope this gathering of Chinese and British entrepreneurs will generate some productive ideas -- ideas that will boost trade and economic cooperation between our two countries and advance China-UK relations as a whole.

Less than three weeks ago, I was called back to Beijing, as did all the Chinese diplomatic envoys from every corner of the world, for an annual conference. We had an important meeting with President Xi Jinping, where he shared with us his thoughts on the world today.

President Xi said, we are now in a world of unprecedented change. Accelerated multi-polarization and increasing equilibrium in the international landscape have become an irreversible trend.

This is a time of great progress, tremendous transformation and profound adjustments. This is the big picture against which China and the UK have embarked on a fast track in building the "Golden Era".

As we look back at 2017, we have every reason to be proud.

We commemorated the 45th anniversary of the ambassadorial diplomatic ties.

We took the "Golden Era" a step further.

We withstood uncertainties and maintained a sound and steady momentum in China-UK relations.

President Xi and Prime Minister May held a successful meeting during the G20 Summit in Hamburg. They also stayed in touch through letters and telephone calls.

The annual meetings of China-UK High-Level People to People Dialogue and the Economic and Financial Dialogue produced fruitful results.

China and the UK reconfirmed the strategic definition of the "Golden Era", enhanced political trust, and enriched bilateral cooperation.

The year 2017 has seen fruitful results across the board, from trade to transport, from nuclear power to financial services and from cultural collaboration to people-to-people exchanges.

By October 2017, China-UK trade reached $65.1 billion, with British export to China increasing by 11.3% year on year. China remains to be one of the fastest growing export markets for the UK.

The construction of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has begun. At the centre of this project, the generic design assessment of Hualong One technology has entered the second stage.

China Railway Express ran its first freight train between China's Yiwu and London. This offered a new, on-land option for the movement of goods between China and Britain, and extended the "Belt and Road" to the very western end of Europe.

Much closer to where we are, the ABP Royal Albert Dock broke ground. This Dock is expected to play a key part in the development of East London.

Here in the City, the Bank of China opened its Private Banking Service Centre. Applications from Agricultural Bank of China and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank to set up branches got the go-ahead from British financial regulators.

In 2018, we have a great deal to look forward to.

In China, this year will be the opening year for the implementation of the blueprint of the 19th Party Congress. It also marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy and the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative.

For China-UK relations, 2018 is also an important year. Prime Minister May will pay an official visit to China. This is now high on the agenda of our bilateral relations.

Both China and the UK attach great importance to this visit. Both want to take this opportunity to expand, elevate and deepen our mutually-beneficial cooperation. Our goal is "Golden Era" 2.0.

To achieve this goal, we need to seize three important opportunities.

The socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era creates our first opportunity. This will ensure that the China-UK "Golden Era" is steady and will endure.

The 19th Party Congress points out that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. This is a new historic juncture in China's development. It marks the beginning of a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects.

China's economic development has also entered a new era. This is marked by the transition from high-speed growth to high-quality growth.

China will follow a new development concept;

Growth will be driven by innovation;

And our economic system will be modernized.

This will also be a new era for China's global role. China will increasingly take centre stage and make greater contribution to mankind.

China will deepen all-round diplomacy;

China will expand its global partnership network;

And China will promote the building of a new-type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.

China-UK relations have always been a leader in China's relations with other Western countries.

China has sought to develop its relations with the UK from a strategic and long-term perspective.

We hope to make our development strategies match with that of the UK.

We aim to deepen China-UK cooperation in political and economic areas, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and global governance.

Working together, our two countries can achieve common development.

We are delighted by the message from the British side. Prime Minister May said this at the Lord Mayor's banquet last November:

"I am committed to maintaining the Golden Era of our relationship with China... whose decisions together with ours will shape the world around us."

I believe as China's development enters a new era, China-UK "Golden Era" will embrace new historic opportunities and more promising prospects.

Now, let me turn to the second opportunity. China's reform and opening up has come to a new stage. This will create a new driving force for upgrading trade and economic cooperation between China and the UK. This is the second opportunity that we must seize.

For China today, reform and opening up is the only road leading towards growth and progress. Our forty years of experience has proven that this is the right way. We owe our breathtaking development to reform and opening up.

Thanks to reform and opening up, China is now the world's second largest economy, the second largest trader in goods, the third largest destination for foreign investment, and the second largest outbound investor in the world.

Also thanks to reform and opening up, China is now the largest trading partner for 124 countries. It has contributed over 30% to world economic growth every year in recent years.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in this new year, China will be further resolved to "cut through mountains and bridge over waters" in order to deepen the reform and open wider to the world.

On reform, we will deepen supply-side structural reform and bring out the vim and vigour of various market entities. At the same time, we will transform the functions of governments, and put in place a system of rules and regulations that are well conceived, fully developed and effective.

On opening-up, we will continue to open our doors and encourage two-way traffic.

We will take measures to increase trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

Our aim is to open up our economy at a higher level and in all aspects, promote balanced trade, and effectively guide and support out-bound investment.

I am glad to say that China and the UK have highly complementary economies. Our economic cooperation and trade are solidly based and will be further powered by continued and deepening of reform and opening-up in China. Sectors that stand to benefit range from trade, infrastructure, equipment manufacturing to high-tech, new energy and financial services.

Let me give you an example. Last year, China adopted a series of new open-up measures. These measures have greatly increased market access, especially in the service sector. They include:

Raising the limit on foreign ownership in joint-venture firms involved in the securities, fund and futures market;

Treating domestic and foreign investors as equals in terms of ownership in joint ventures in the banking sector;

And gradually in the near future, removing caps on foreign ownership in life insurance business.

In all these areas, British companies have a competitive edge. Therefore, I encourage you to grab this opportunity and build up your business in China. I am sure both China and Britain will benefit from it.

Later this year, in November, China's first International Import Exposition will open in Shanghai. British companies are most welcome there to explore new area to grow our bilateral trade.

The third opportunity comes from "Belt and Road". Seizing this initiative will give China and the UK a new platform and from this platform, we can go on to take the lead in an open global economy.

The Belt and Road Initiative represents a major effort of China to open up on all fronts. It is also an important public good that China provides to the region and the whole world. It is a public good for common development and global economic recovery.

This Initiative embodies the spirit of peace and cooperation. It calls for openness and inclusiveness. It advocates mutual learning and mutual benefit.

In the past five years since its inception, "Belt and Road" showed enormous appeal all over the world. It has by far attracted wide participation and delivered fruitful results.

There is certainly a lot more to be expected going forward. China will continue to work vigorously to advance international cooperation along the "Belt and Road". Through such cooperation, we will strive for connectivity in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges. This will in turn allow production factors to flow in a more orderly manner, enable more efficient allocation of resources and deliver the benefit of a better integrated market.

The UK is known for being open and free in trade and investment. It is, in the words of Chancellor Hammond, "a natural partner" in the Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, we have seen a few pioneering efforts in this respect.

The UK is the first major Western country to apply to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the second country after China to contribute to an AIIB special fund.

During the ninth meeting of China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue held in December 2017, our two countries reached important agreements. This includes agreement on the establishment of a bilateral investment fund, with an initial input of $1 billion. This commercially-based and market-oriented fund aims to support investment in the two countries as well as in potential third market.

I am confident that with our concerted efforts, China-UK cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative will deliver more benefits.

It will create more opportunities and platforms for our companies to explore regional and international market.

It will advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation around the world.

And it will contribute to making economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and universally beneficial.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe I have painted a grand picture of huge opportunities, strong driving forces and broad platforms. However, as President Xi said in his New Year message, we must not indulge in mere dreams or rhetoric.

The more important thing we need to do is to adopt a down-to-earth attitude and deliver solid outcomes to translate this dream into reality. In this regard, may I share with you my three suggestions.

First, we need to match our development strategies.

There is a strong match between China's Belt and Road Initiative and "Made in China 2025" policy, and the "Global Britain" and Modern Industrial Strategy of the UK in terms of the goals they set out to achieve. This creates opportunities for companies from the two countries to deepen cooperation.

To help them seize these opportunities, I hope our two sides will continue to make our development strategies match and enhance policy coordination. This will provide a high-quality institutional environment and policy guarantee for companies to engage in economic and trade cooperation.

Second, we need to upgrade our cooperation to a higher level.

The UK is highly experienced and competitive in financial and legal services, high-end manufacturing, clean energy, creative industry, bio-science and medicine.

While in China, on top of a huge market, our economic structure is being improved, new sectors such as digital economy are thriving, and the innovation-driven development strategy has been effective and delivered fruitful results.

I look forward to continued efforts from you, both Chinese and British entrepreneurs, to put your strengths together. There is huge potential to be tapped in expanding trade and investment and enhancing industrial and innovation cooperation. Together, we could achieve common development.

My third suggestion is to enrich tri-partite cooperation.

China and the UK have a huge potential and promising future in Belt and Road cooperation.

It is my hope that both Chinese and British businesses will step up practical cooperation under this framework and work together to explore a third market along the Belt and Road.

I encourage you to put your respective strengths to use as you work to meet the need of Belt and Road development.

I encourage you to go out there to connect with the countries along the Belt and Road.

I hope that in the process of cooperation, you could build your brand name and create the highlights of your business.

This will deliver win-win results to more than just China and Britain. This will benefit three or even more parties involved.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a Chinese saying goes, a nine-storey tower rises up from a pile of soil.

Building China-UK cooperation requires the same down-to-earth approach.

I sincerely hope that the business communities of our two countries will act in this spirit, seize the valuable opportunities of this new era, embrace new ideas and break new ground.

I am sure, by working together, we will deliver more "golden fruits" for China-UK "Golden Era", and make new contribution to and scale new heights in China-UK economic and trade cooperation.

To conclude, I wish the China-UK Economic and Trade Forum a complete success!

Thank you.

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