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Opinion: China, U.K. Committed Partners in Open Trade, Free Markets

Chinese-made cars wait to be loaded on to a ship that will take them to the U.K. in Jiangsu province's Lianyungang port on June 8. Photo: VCG
Chinese-made cars wait to be loaded on to a ship that will take them to the U.K. in Jiangsu province's Lianyungang port on June 8. Photo: VCG

This week is my fifth visit to China in the two years I have been chancellor, a clear sign of the strength of our economic partnership and the importance of the relationship between our two countries. I am here to meet political leaders with the clear message that the U.K. is a committed and reliable partner and a proponent of open trade and free markets.

“Global Britain” is not just a strategy for Britain’s economic future. It is a statement about what kind of people we are — and about the economy and the society we are seeking to build. The U.K. is committed to free and open trade, as we chart a new relationship with our European partners and also deepen our relationship with the rest of the world.

Our partnership with China is already deep and strong, and I want us to keep it growing. Financial services cooperation, in particular, has huge scope to develop and thrive. It is already at the very heart of our annual Economic and Financial Dialogues. The U.K. is a champion of yuan internationalization and London is the largest offshore yuan center after Hong Kong. I want to deepen that relationship as China continues to open up, to encourage greater two-way trade and investment and cement the U.K.’s position as the world’s premier financial center. Last week I announced a new Global Financial Partnerships Strategy to bring together governments, regulators, and industry to build an enhanced framework for cross-border financial services. This will facilitate access to markets, increase trade, reduce frictions and position the U.K. as the gateway of choice for global finance.

The financial services industry is highly innovative, always finding new ways to serve its customers. Fintech — the future of global finance — is another area where I want to deepen our collaboration. The U.K. is recognized as the best place in the world to set up and grow a fintech business, and in China over 700 million people use fintech every day for payments and investment. This is why we have a Fintech Bridge between our countries, to bring our governments, regulators and entrepreneurs together. The U.K. and China are also key partners in green finance, together leading global discussions in the G20 and driving global standards on green bonds. There is already clear momentum: just last week both ICBC and Bank of China issued green bonds in London. It is my ambition for the U.K. to lead the world in financing green investment, which is why I announced the establishment of a new Green Finance Institute in London. It will mean that firms from across the world can access our one-stop-shop for both world-leading climate science and financial services. This institute will house our joint work with China, giving it the dedicated resource and expertise needed to take the relationship to the next level.

I also want the U.K. to seize the great opportunities to lead in the financing of the Belt and Road Initiative. The unique combination of financial capacity and legal and professional skills in London makes the U.K. ideally placed to help create a globally-recognized asset class of Belt and Road Initiative projects. That is why I appointed Sir Douglas Flint, the former chairman of HSBC, to be my Belt and Road envoy and invited him to join my visit here to China this week. I also want to deepen our collaboration in new and innovative financial services.

I look forward to welcoming Vice Premier Hu Chunhua to London later this year for the 10th Economic and Financial Dialogue between our two countries. This an important anniversary in our relationship, held against the backdrop of another important anniversary, the 40th year since reform and opening-up — a fitting backdrop for a meeting between partners committed to free and open markets.

Philip Hammond is the chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

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