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Strong Sino-UK business links addressed in forum

By HAN BAOYI in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-11-26 09:15

Participants celebrate the launch of the '2020 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK' during the 3rd China-UK Economic and Trade Forum which was held online on Wednesday in London. CHINA DAILY

The world should embrace multilateralism and promote cooperation to step out difficulties caused by the pandemic and the United Kingdom should "strengthen confidence" in Sino-British business exchanges, said Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, on Wednesday.

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

Liu made the remarks at the 3rd China-UK Economic and Trade Forum, held online this year due to the pandemic, at which the 2020 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK was launched.

"As the raging pandemic continues to deal a heavy blow to the world economy and poses severe challenges to development, this forum, themed Partnership for Future Growth and Prosperity, is timely and bears special significance," Liu said at the forum, attended by more than 500 political leaders, business representatives, and academics from both countries, as well as thousands of people globally.

Liu said that China and the UK should "strengthen confidence" in business cooperation amid challenges confronting economic globalization.

"However, it has become increasingly clear that globalization is an irreversible trend of history and the only road to the progress of human society," he said.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has reminded people that the world is a community where countries "share weal and woe and face a common future", he added.

William Russell, the lord mayor of the City of London, said Chinese companies in the UK continue to play an important role in collectively building back the UK's economy during this challenging year.

"The Chinese business community has long played an important role in growing the UK economy," he said. "Since the year 2000, Chinese direct investment to the UK has topped 45 billion pounds ($60 billion) more than any other EU country, and double that of second-place, Germany."

Official figures show trade volume in 2019 between China and the UK hit a new record of $86.272 billion. In the first 10 months of this year, trade in goods between the two countries increased by 2.8 percent year-on-year, faster than the growth rate of China's overall foreign trade during the same period.

Liu said as China advances the "dual circulation" growth pattern, in which the domestic market will play a leading role and international and domestic markets will reinforce each other, China will provide more cooperation opportunities and more development space for businesses of all countries, including the UK.

In 2021, China will enter a new stage of development, marked by the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), while the UK will also enter a new stage after Brexit. The two countries should "seize the opportunities to create a brighter future", Liu noted, especially in "green development".

"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," he said.

The event included two panel discussions, focusing on new China-UK investment opportunities and emerging trends in the post-COVID-19 era, as well as their joint response to climate change.

Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club, said during the panel discussion that the response to climate change is one of the areas he believes China and the UK should cooperate in.

He said: "We know China's target of 2060 to be carbon neutral. Britain is also developing its energies on this. And together, the world will create a great deal of progress. It's going to involve a lot of opportunities for innovation for small and medium-sized companies as well."

He also noted that investment in health is another important area where the two countries should focus, because many nations have aging populations and it is important to find ways to keep people healthier for longer so that they can contribute more to the changing world.

The China-UK Economic and Trade Forum was held by the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, or CCCUK, a non-profit organization representing and serving the interests of Chinese enterprises and aiming to promote China-UK economic and trade relations.

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