Jul 06, 2021 09:33 PM

China-U.K. Business Group Says Ties Are Strong, Growth Prospects Are Good

What’s new: Business ties between China and Britain remain strong with excellent prospects for future growth, participants said at a virtual meeting attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and senior U.K. business leaders Tuesday.

“U.K.-China trade has increased against all odds; investment is also on the rise,” Li said through an interpreter. “These trends show that between China and the U.K. there are not just shared interests, but space for growth.”

The meeting was attended by representatives from 25 companies including HSBC Holdings PLC, BP PLC, Jaguar Land Rover Ltd., AstraZeneca PLC, Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd. and Rio Tinto PLC.

Participants in the conference hosted by the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) discussed bilateral trade and investment relations, the overall business environment, pandemic responses and joint efforts to combat climate change, with the heads of British firms also reaffirming their long-term commitment to the Chinese market.

“The discussion highlighted how a healthy trade and investment relationship is in the national interest of both the U.K. and China,” said CBBC Chair Sherard Cowper-Coles.

The background: China was Britain’s largest trade partner in the first three months of the year with a total value of 24 billion pounds ($33.3 billion) in goods and services, according to the U.K. Office of National Statistics.

Tensions between Beijing and London have simmered in recent years over China’s crackdown in the former British colony of Hong Kong, actions in its far western region of Xinjiang and the operations of Chinese technology companies in the U.K.

“It is important for both sides to remember the big picture,” Li said. “Britain is committed to multilateralism and free trade, and China shares this commitment. Whatever problems there are, we can always work them out through dialogue.”

In an annual report published last month by the British Chamber of Commerce in China, a business group, U.K. firms called on Beijing to make it easier for staff to enter the country, give more notice of industrial policy changes, and retain certain tax benefits for expatriate workers.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh ( and editor Michael Bellart (

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