Li's UK visit marks commitment to bilateral ties

Updated: 2014-06-25 07:02

By Zhang Chunyan and Cecily Liu in London (China Daily USA)

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Premier Li Keqiang's recent trip to the United Kingdom has played a significant role in boosting bilateral relations, top business leaders from the UK said on Tuesday.

Li's visit has "created the conditions for some timely and significant investment as the UK economy returns to growth, and highlights the appeal that the British economy and its businesses have internationally and with China in particular," Simon Davies, managing partner of Linklaters, a multinational law firm headquartered in London, told China Daily.

"I was delighted to meet with Premier Li and was impressed by his dedication and vision to strengthen Sino-British relations - something I firmly believe is in the interest of both countries," Davies said.

Li and UK Prime Minister David Cameron signed deals on investment, trade and business collaboration worth $30 billion in London on June 17. China is already the second-largest overseas investor in London and the third-biggest in the UK as a whole, according to UK government data.

Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corp, said Li's visit provided significant progress on a wide variety of shared issues, including the internationalization of the renminbi and new opportunities to further develop London's offshore yuan market.

Li's visit heralded direct trading between the British and Chinese currencies for the first time. China Construction Bank was designated as clearing-service provider for offshore trading of the yuan in London.

"We view Premier Li's visit to the UK as a sign of China and the UK's commitment to further develop stronger trade and investment opportunities," Boleat said.

Global oil major BP signed an agreement worth $18 billion to provide China National Offshore Oil Corp with liquefied natural gas for 20 years.

The State-owned China Development Bank signed an agreement, with TheCityUK, a private financial services association. It will encourage bank lending in the UK as well as trading in the yuan, which will open up trade opportunities for Chinese and UK businesses.

In addition to the specific deals highlighted last week, the significance of the visit is much broader, "in building long-lasting bilateral business and financial opportunities between the two markets and encouraging on-going dialogue with practical results for mutual benefit", Boleat said.

Fenella Barber, a director for the China-Britain Business Council, said that Li's visit has enhanced business cooperation between the UK and China across various sectors, and in particular highlighted opportunities in sectors where bilateral cooperation is just starting or involved many small and medium-sized businesses, like the creative and consumer industries and retail.

Business leaders also agreed that Li's visit has increased understanding and friendship between China and the UK, which in turn helps bilateral business relations.

"Li's visit put business relationships in the spotlight, and that really helped sectors involving many smaller firms, which perhaps needed a bit more encouragement from the growing political relationship," Barber said.

Li's speech in Mansion House, the City of London, about China's current state of development allowed British people to see a true side of China, said Michelle Chen, a partner at the London-headquartered law firm Squire Sanders.

Li's address at the business dinner also impressed Barber.

"He was witty and warm ... On leaving, he met some of our Chinese colleagues, and he shook their hands. They all said, 'What a firm handshake he has, and a lovely smile'. Those small things are also important," Barber said.

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(China Daily USA 06/25/2014 page14)