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HOME > Ambassador's Events & Remarks
Ambassador Zheng Zeguang Attends the Fourth China-UK Economic and Trade Forum
2021-11-29 22:00

On November 25, Ambassador Zheng Zeguang attended the Fourth China-UK Economic and Trade Forum hosted on-line by China Chamber of Commerce in the UK and delivered a keynote speech. The Forum also marked the launch of “2021 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK”. 16 experts from political, business and academic sectors gave speeches at the event, including Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment at the Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Mark Logan, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG), John Edwards, Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner to China, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman of China-Britain Business Council, John McLean, Chair of the Institute of Directors for the City of London, and Ma Jun, Chairman of China Green Finance Committee. Around 700 guests from both China and the UK’s political, business and academic sectors registered for and joined the Forum and nearly 300 thousand audience watched the event live-streamed online.

Ambassador Zheng started his speech by addressing three issues which have drawn broad attention in the UK recently and shared his views.

About China’s economy, Ambassador Zheng said that against the backdrop of the prolonged pandemic and sluggish economic recovery, China is taking coordinated efforts to balance Covid response and economic and social undertakings. Much progress has been made. China has put the pandemic largely under control and on 24 November, only 22 new confirmed cases were reported. In the first three quarters of this year, China’s economy grew by 9.8% year-on-year and import and export of goods increased by 22.7%. According to the latest statistics for the first ten months of this year, main economic indicators show a continued momentum of relatively rapid growth.

  • Paid-in FDI in China between January and October increased by 17.8%.

  • The added value of large-scale industrial enterprises increased by 10.9% year-on-year, 

  • the Service Production Index went up by 15.1%, and

  • the total retail sale of consumer goods grew by 14.9%.

China’s economic structure, and the quality and efficiency of its development have seen continued optimization and improvement. China is confident that this year’s target for economic and social development will be reached, and this will contribute to the stability and reliability of the global industrial and supply chains as well as to global economic recovery.

About China’s major policies, Ambassador Zheng said the Sixth Plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee held not long ago indicated that China’s major strategies and policies will have a high level of stability and consistency. The country is poised to continue its rapid economic growth and social stability in the years ahead. Comprehensive reform will be deepened, opening-up will be expanded at a high standard, and green and low-carbon development will be the new driving force for growth. With the new emphasis on common prosperity and the further expansion of the middle-income group, China will become the world’s biggest consumer market sooner than expected. All this is absolutely good news to the world and also to the cooperation between China and the world including the UK.

Ambassador Zheng noted, at the Opening Ceremony of the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) earlier this month, President Xi Jinping emphasized,

  • China will not change its resolve to open wider at a high standard; 

  • China will not change its determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world; and

  • China will not change its commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced, and beneficial for all.

China will continue opening the market wider and at a higher level. Specific measures will include the following: 

  • further shorten the negative list for foreign investment, 

  • open up telecommunications and medical and healthcare sectors in an orderly manner, 

  • revise and expand the Encouraged Foreign Investment Catalogue, and 

  • continue to implement the Foreign Investment Law and its supporting regulations.

For global investors, including businesses from the UK, all these measures will help foster an enabling environment that is market-oriented, law-based, open and aligned with internationally-accepted practice.

About the prospect for China-UK business cooperation, Ambassador Zheng pointed out that in a recent telephone conversation, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed that the two sides should enhance cooperation and work for the sound and steady development of the China-UK relationship. Healthcare, green growth, digital economy, financial services and innovation were highlighted as key areas where cooperation should be expanded. This consensus at the top charted the course for the bilateral ties as well as business cooperation between the two countries. The business cooperation is showing positive momentum. Here are some trade and investment statistics.

  • From January to September, China-UK trade in goods totalled 81.3 billion US dollars, increasing by 26% year-on-year.

  • According to Chinese statistics, from the second quarter last year to the third quarter this year, that is six quarters in a run, China has been the biggest source for imported goods into the UK.

  • By September this year, both FDI from the UK to China and from China to the UK have gone up remarkably even after the pandemic.

All these speak volume to the enormous potential and bright future of China-UK economic and trade cooperation.

Going forward, Ambassador Zheng hoped China and the UK can make further efforts in the following areas. 

First, the two sides should work together to provide a sound political atmosphere and a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for businesses. From the “2021 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK”, we can see many Chinese businesses are particularly concerned about those remarks and statements by certain UK officials about excluding Chinese businesses and investors from certain areas. Economic and trade issues should not be politicized. If wilful restrictions were imposed on businesses based on geopolitical or ideological considerations, that could not be a practice of free trade and that would be against the rules of the WTO. Furthermore, that would scare away prospective investors and harm the China-UK economic relations as well.

Second, the two sides should work together for mutual benefit in key areas, including green development. The business communities of the two countries should build on the cooperation in traditional areas and make special efforts to expand the practical cooperation in green growth, healthcare digital economy, financial services and innovation. And the two countries should do it in the bilateral context as well as in third-party markets in BRI partner countries. Working together, both sides can not only benefit the peoples of the two countries but also give a strong boost to green development in other countries around the world.

Third, the two sides should work together to uphold the safety and reliability of the global industrial and supply chains. The pandemic tells people that we are in a global village. No one should use the pandemic as a pretext to advocate “deglobalisation” or champion “decoupling” and “parallel systems”. This is ultimately harmful to the interest of any country that does so and the rest of the world. As permanent members of the UN Security Council and major economies in the world, China and the UK should uphold true multilateralism and free trade, so as to make positive contribution to the safety and reliability of the global industrial and supply chains. 

Ambassador Zheng congratulated on the Forum and the official launch of “2021 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK”, pointing out that the Forum has been held for four consecutive years, becoming an important platform for business leaders from all sectors of China and the UK to discuss and plan for economic development and trade. He expressed his hope that the CCCUK will build on its success of the past 20 years and continue serving as the home for Chinese companies in the UK and a very important bridge linking Chinese and British partners. He said the Report represents the achievement of the Chinese enterprises in the UK and their prospects for the future, providing a reference for the governments and business and academic sectors of the two countries to promote cooperation and carry out communication. 

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