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Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Third China-UK Economic and Trade Forum: Strengthen Confidence and Seize the Opportunities for Win-Win Cooperation
25 November 2020

Chairman Fang,

Lord Mayor Alderman Russell,

Sir Sherard,

Chairman Perry,

Sir Vince,

Trade Commissioner Edwards,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!

It is a real delight to join you at the Third China-UK Economic and Trade Forum & the Launch Ceremony of “2020 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK” hosted by China Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

As the raging pandemic continues to deal a heavy blow to world economy and poses severe challenges to development, this Forum themed on “Partnership for Future Growth and Prosperity” is timely and bears special significance.

How shall we address the current crisis? How to find opportunities in crisis and open up new prospects amid changes? The answer lies in a Chinese saying, which goes “Confidence is more precious than gold”.

In my opinion, in the face of the crisis, it is all the more important that we strengthen confidence in the following three aspects:

First, we should strengthen confidence in economic globalisation.

Right now, economic globalisation is encountering headwinds. The world is facing an important choice between multilateralism and unilateralism, between openness and closedness, and between cooperation and confrontation.

A certain country, out of its selfish political agenda, has been clamouring for “economic decoupling” and “parallel systems”. However, it has become increasingly clear that globalisation is an irreversible trend of history and the only road to the progress of human society.

The pandemic reminds us once again that the world is a community where countries share weal and woe and face a common future. It is impossible for countries to retreat to seclusion and isolation. We must instead make vigourous efforts to adapt and move globalization in the right direction, and we must address problems arising from globalisation through further development. We cannot let unilateralism and protectionism undermine international rules and order and disrupt the normal progress of globalisation.

As President Xi Jinping said at the Opening Ceremony of the Third China International Import Expo,

“We must uphold the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation. We need to build trust rather than second-guess each other; we need to join hands rather than throw punches at each other; and we need to consult rather than slander each other. Bearing in mind the common interests that bind us all, countries need to work together to make economic globalization more open, inclusive and balanced for the benefits of all.”

Second, we should strengthen confidence in China’s open development.

China has made strategic achievements in epidemic response. Its economy is showing a momentum of steady recovery, and has realised positive growth in the first three quarters of this year, making China the first major economy in the world to have achieved positive growth after the pandemic.

China is making vigorous efforts to build an open economy at a higher level. From implementing the Foreign Investment Law to expanding the pilot free trade zones, from building Hainan into a free trade port to cutting tariffs several times and shortening the negative list for foreign investment, China is building a market for the world, a market for sharing and a market for everyone.

I am confident that, with enormous market potential and policies of further opening-up, China will provide strong impetus for world economic recovery and growth.

Third, we should strengthen confidence in China-UK business cooperation.

In 2019, trade volume between China and the UK hit a new record of 86.272 billion US dollars. In the first ten months of this year, trade in goods between our two countries increased by 2.8% year-on-year, faster than the growth rate of China’s overall foreign trade in the same period.

I am pleased to have seen that the UK business community remains optimistic about China’s development and stays committed to deepening cooperation with China. At the Third China International Import Expo concluded not long ago, UK businesses signed contracts worth 430 million pounds.

Since early this year, three Chinese companies that are leaders in their respective industries have been listed at London Stock Exchange through the Shanghai-London Stock Connect. China’s Jingye Group saved 3,200 local jobs by acquiring British Steel and pledged a further investment of 1.2 billion pounds in the coming ten years.

With all these concrete actions, the businesses of our two countries have cast their vote of confidence and support for China-UK business cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In the face of severe challenges, we should not only strengthen confidence but also seize the opportunities to create a brighter future.

In 2021, China will enter a new stage of development marked by the 14th Five Year Plan. The UK will also enter a new stage after Brexit. There will be three opportunities for our two countries.

The first opportunity lies in China’s historic new development pattern.

The Fifth Plenary Session of the CPC Central Committee was held in Beijing last month. This conference made comprehensive plans for China’s development in the coming five years and beyond. New visions were outlined and new requirements for development were laid out.

China is entering a new development stage. We will accelerate the building of the “dual circulation” growth pattern in which the domestic market will play a leading role and international and domestic markets will reinforce each other. Under this new development paradigm, China will open up more areas and more sectors at a deeper level.

As China advances the “dual circulation”, it will provide more cooperation opportunities and more development space for businesses of all countries, including the UK.

The second opportunity lies in the important synergy of the development strategies of China and the UK.

China and the UK are important business partners. Our two countries have high economic complementarity, deeply integrated interests and enormous potential for cooperation.

China is stimulating innovation, promoting balanced development between different regions, and accelerating the growth of modern industries. We are advancing regional development strategies, such as the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, Yangtze River Economic Belt, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta.

Similarly, the UK is also committed to developing modern industries and promoting balanced development between different regions. It is implementing strategies such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.

Greater synergy between the development strategies of our two countries will enable better connectivity between our markets and resources, as well as more efficient operation of our businesses.

China welcomes UK businesses and investments. And we hope that the UK will continue to foster an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese businesses here in this country.

The third opportunity lies in our shared commitment to green development.

In 2021, China and the UK will host COP15 and COP26 respectively. Our two countries are having close consultations to build up synergy between the two conferences.

China is committed to the path of green development and protection of the ecological environment, and demonstrated considerable strength in clean energy such as nuclear and solar energy. The UK has special strength in green finance and low-carbon technology.

Business communities from China and the UK should seize the opportunities to expand cooperation in green finance, green technology and clean energy, and to be the standard bearers in global green recovery and governance on climate change.

I am happy to know that today’s Forum will witness the launch of the first Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK. This Report showcases the extraordinary achievements of Chinese enterprises that have taken root in this country, engaged in win-win cooperation with their UK partners and contributed to the local community. It also embodies the confidence of Chinese enterprises in working with the UK business community to advance China-UK cooperation. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the launch of the Report.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As a Chinese saying goes,

“Only in the coldest winter,

One knows that pine and cypress do not wither.”

The same is true in time of major crisis. The tougher it gets, the greater the need to lift our spirits and strengthen our confidence. In this spirit, we will be able to turn the crisis into opportunities and turn the opportunities into success.

Let’s join hands to open up new prospects and write a new chapter for China-UK win-win cooperation!

In conclusion, I wish this Forum great success!

Thank you!

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