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Chinese vice-president to attend coronation of King Charles III

By XING YI in London and ZHONG NAN in Beijing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-05-06 07:01

At the invitation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom, Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative Han Zheng arrived in London on Thursday for the king's coronation ceremony, which is to be held on Saturday.

Han, who is China's vice-president, attended a welcome dinner hosted by Chinese and British businesspeople on Thursday and delivered a speech, acknowledging the active role that business circles have played in promoting China-UK exchanges, and encouraging them to contribute more to bilateral cooperation and the global prosperity.

Stressing China's unswerving commitment to high-level opening-up and globalization, Han said that China has a high degree of continuity and stability in its domestic and foreign policies.

"No matter how the world changes, China will bring more opportunities to the world through our own development and bring more certainty and positivity," he said.

Han said that China always sees Britain as a "strategic partner", views its international role and influence in a positive way, and said he hopes the UK's China policy will also be conducted positively.

China is ready to provide national treatment for British companies and steadily expand the high-level two-way opening-up of the capital market, Han said, adding that he hoped the UK will provide Chinese companies with an open, fair and nondiscriminatory business environment.

In the past two years, annual trade between China and the UK has exceeded $100 billion and the UK has become one of the top destinations for Chinese companies to invest and students to study abroad.

In the first quarter of this year, bilateral trade amounted to $23.25 billion, while China saw foreign direct investment from the UK jump 680.3 percent year-on-year, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Commerce.

The latest data from the UK-based Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that more than 150,000 Chinese students were studying in the UK in the 2021-22 academic year, which was the top among students coming from other countries.

Han also noted that China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the UK in other areas, such as safeguarding world peace, fighting climate change and protecting biodiversity.

John Edwards, the UK's trade commissioner for China, said that green growth is the area where there are the greatest opportunities for UK-China partnerships in business.

Edwards said that British companies have been a key element in the design of China's carbon markets, driving down the global cost of offshore wind energy and helping some of China's clean mobility companies set up manufacturing bases in the UK.

Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the China-Britain Business Council, said that economic, trade and investment ties are the foundations of UK-China relations.

"Despite those voices calling for decoupling, for both China and Britain, these ties bring opportunities to our companies, and prosperity and jobs to our peoples," he said.

John Mclean, senior advisor to the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, said that Han's visit sends a very strong signal that both countries wish to energize their collaboration.

"The people-to-people exchanges over the COVID period between China and the UK have been minimal. However, the coronation has created a new bilateral impetus which will create confidence and, in turn, increase trade," said Mclean.

RX, the London-headquartered trade fair and event organizer, is set to hold 75 business exhibitions across China this year to meet demand from local companies seeking to boost exports and better compete with global rivals.

Hugh Jones, CEO of RX, said that supported by China's optimized pandemic control measures, the latest opening-up policies and the accelerated pace of industrial upgrading, the company predicts that its sales revenue in 2023 will soar 190 percent on a yearly basis.

Given China's growing middle-income group, increasing disposable incomes and demand for more sophisticated daily necessities, businesses from sectors such as packaging, healthcare and smart manufacturing will see surging demand to participate in various trade shows to win more clients, he said.

Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, said that Han's attendance at the coronation showed China's great respect for the British monarchy and the British people.

"Charles III has extended the hand of friendship grasped by China. These vital national gestures of respect bridge thousands of miles and hundreds of years. They make for a peaceful world where difference is appreciated," Perry said.

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