Xi urges boosting trade ties with UK

Chinese President Xi Jinping told British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday that their countries should take trade ties to "a new level."

President Xi Jinping greets British Prime Minister Theresa May in Beijing yesterday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday that their countries should take trade ties to “a new level.”

“We must strengthen the pragmatism of Sino-British relations in the golden era, and push economic and trade cooperation between the two countries to a new level,” Xi said during his talks with May at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

Xi said China is willing to work with Britain to promote the healthy and steady development of bilateral ties in a new era.

He made four proposals for the future development of bilateral ties.

Firstly, the two countries should consider and design the future development of bilateral ties from a strategic height and in a comprehensive way. Xi called on both countries to continue to host high-level dialog in areas of strategy, finance and people-to-people exchanges, and strengthen exchanges between the legislature bodies, political parties and militaries.

“The two countries need to enhance mutual understanding, respect and consider each other’s core interests and major concerns, and deal with sensitive issues in a constructive way,” Xi said.

Secondly, both sides should work together to promote bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

He encouraged both countries to dovetail strategies, enhance cooperation in areas of finance, nuclear energy and investment, and explore cooperation in new areas such as artificial intelligence, green energy, the digital economy and sharing economy.

China supports economic globalization and trade liberalization, the president said.

The Belt and Road initiative, aiming to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes, is operated under market rules and international rules in the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, Xi said.

“China and Britain can carry out broader and more in-depth cooperation of higher standard within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative,” Xi said.

Thirdly, China and Britain should enhance exchange and cooperation within multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, G20 and the World Trade Organization to address global challenges including climate change.

Fourthly, the two countries should reinforce people-to-people and cultural exchanges to set an example of realizing harmony and coexistence between Eastern and Western countries.

May said she hoped for cooperation between the sides under the Belt and Road plan and they would “promote regional and global economic growth.”

Standard Chartered yesterday announced a memorandum of understanding in which the British bank would receive 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) from China Development Bank to back Silk Road projects.

May is seeking to deepen trade relations with the world’s second-largest economy as Britain prepares to leave the European Union next year.

“As the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union we’re going to be more outward looking and looking to enhance our relationships around the world, and this relationship with China is an important part of that,” May told China Central Television.

May said the two countries would sign 9 billion pounds (US$12.8 billion) in business deals during her visit.

The two countries agreed new measures to improve access to the huge Chinese market and set up a special panel to explore trade opportunities, she said on Wednesday.

Bolstering ties with China became more urgent after Britain voted in 2016 to leave the EU, compelling it to forge new trade agreements outside the current 28-nation bloc.

British exports to China are up 60 percent since 2010, and China is expected to be one of the UK’s biggest foreign investors by 2020.

May started her three-day visit to China in the central city of Wuhan on Wednesday and later held a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

The two countries signed a dozen deals in areas including trade, finance, health care and smart cities on Wednesday.

May is being accompanied on her visit by 50 British business leaders, including the chief executives of Jaguar Land Rover and drug firm AstraZeneca.

May’s trip ends in the business hub of Shanghai today.

Special Reports