The bilateral relationship between the UK and China is already very strong and will continue to flourish with continued support, Tom Simpson, Managing Director and China Operations & China Chief Representative of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the “Jintai Roundtable” Seminar themed “China-UK Innovation Cooperation in Post-Epidemic Era,” Simpson highlighted the importance of remembering the deep ties that run between the UK and China, despite recent challenges.
CBBC, the UK’s national business network supporting trade and investment with China, has been at the heart of the action in the bilateral relationship for 67 years, with its focus on growing the trade and investment relationship between the two countries, according to Simpson.
“This has been our mission since our founding days back in the 1950s and will remain our mission for as long as we are around,” he stressed.
Having lived in China for over 13 years, Simpson shared his observations on the China-UK relationship, noting that the bilateral trade relationship has grown significantly in the last decade.
According to Simpson, China is now the UK’s third largest export market for goods. 2019 was a record year with £26.4 billion worth of goods exported to China, representing 7% of UK’s total goods exports.
“Many of the UK’s major multinational companies and a growing number of SMEs have established operations in China, investing billions and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs,” he added.
Simpson said there are a fantastic amount of stories reflected in the UK and Chinese companies and individuals that sit at the heart of this relationship.
In the arts and culture sector, the two countries have enjoyed strong cultural links, said Simpson, citing the examples of the Victoria & Albert Museum in Shenzhen, the Tate Gallery in Shanghai, and Serpentine in Beijing.
Businesses are also playing their role, “with China’s live streaming and video streaming companies providing excellent channels for British cultural institutions and content creators to reach new audiences in China,” he said.
With regards to sports, China’s love for football and the Premier League has led to Manchester City establishing a sister football club in Chengdu.
On the innovation front, Simpson pointed to the growing levels of collaboration between UK and Chinese universities as well as between businesses that are exploring new ways of working together, using BP’s joint-venture partnership with Didi to create electric charging infrastructure in China as an example.
Citing British drugmaker AstraZeneca as another example, Simpson said the company has recently launched a new Health-Tech Incubator in Wuxi in collaboration with the local government, which will land, incubate, accelerate, and scale up both domestic and overseas life science companies, with ten innovative companies already moving in.
“The economic, trade, and innovation collaboration between our two countries is already very strong and with continued support will only continue to flourish,” Simpson concluded.