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UK’s miscalculation over China should be rectified to ensure smooth bilateral ties: experts

By Chi Zao (People's Daily Online)    14:48, July 30, 2020

The Sino-British Economic Cooperation and Innovation Development Conference was launched by People’s Daily Online UK branch on July 29, 2020.

Though Sino-UK relations are now facing unprecedented challenges due to the latter’s interference in China’s domestic affairs, and bilateral trade has been dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the two nations’ future cooperation in multiple areas shows promising prospects, said experts and business leaders from both nations at a round table conference, but also warned that the UK’s miscalculation towards China should be rectified to ensure healthy and stable bilateral ties.

Bringing together prominent business leaders and experts from both China and the UK, the Sino-British Economic Cooperation and Innovation Development Conference, an international gathering aimed at deepening bilateral cooperation in the trade, culture and science fields between China and the UK amid the COVID-19 pandemic launched by People’s Daily Online UK branch, was held on July 29, 2020, with experts noting that the conference serves as a timely guideline for future cooperation between the two nations.

“When it comes to economic cooperation, China and the UK complement each other in many areas. Although the pandemic and the recent difficulties hindering Sino-British ties have cast a shadow on future cooperation between the two nations, bilateral trade remains strong and is a pillar of Sino-UK ties,” said Zhao Qiang, deputy editor-in-chief of People’s Daily Online, who further noted that it is important to promote the two nations’ trade and innovation cooperation at such a crucial stage.

Echoing Zhao, Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of the Ministry of Commerce and Vice President of the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, noted that though Sino-UK relations are now facing unprecedented obstacles, prospects for the two nations’ friendship and relations between the two peoples remain optimistic, while trade and innovation cooperation are vital for the two nations’ relations.

According to Wei, future cooperation between the two nations should follow three steps. The first is to strengthen the two nations’ already sound people-to-people friendship and promote bilateral trade. The second step would be finding more areas for cooperation, with a focus on trade, as well as science and technology cooperation. He noted that the UK may use the upcoming China International Import Expo as a platform to introduce more British companies to the Chinese market. 

“And the third step would be using financial cooperation as a breakthrough to further promote cooperation in multiple areas, especially in the cultural, tourism and education fields,” added Wei.

Sino-UK relations are now facing obstacles due to the latter’s recent interference in Hong Kong affairs, as well as its decision to stop UK telecoms networks buying new Huawei 5G kit.

Wei noted that the UK’s three miscalculations are the major reason why Sino-UK relations are on their current bumpy road. Following in the footsteps of US unilateralism and hegemonism, the UK has questioned China’s ability to lead global economic revival and misjudged the post-pandemic international situation. Some UK politicians still hold a Cold War mentality towards China, and misjudged China’s determination to develop peacefully. Following Brexit, the UK’s discord with China, its third misjudgment of its own future development, will further dent its international trade.

Tom Simpson, China Chief Representative at CBBC Company, stressed that UK-China trade relations have grown significantly in the last decade, and 2019 was a record year with 26.4 billion worth of goods exported to China, representing 7.% of UK’s total goods exports.

He further noted that foreign direct investment from China received by the UK between 2000 and 2018 was more than double the level of Chinese investment received by any other European country.

“I could go on giving examples as there are so many, but I think the message is already clear: the economic, trade, and innovation collaboration between our two countries is already very strong, and with continued support will only continue to flourish,” said the British business leader.

“The UK is an important partner for China. It is already bad that the UK has withdrawn from the European Union. It would be even more devastating for the UK’s economy if it tries to sever its ties with China,” said Jin Xu, former minister counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in the UK and President of the China Association of International Trade.

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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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