Premier: Foreign firms welcome

2024-05-16 08:18:13China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Premier Li Qiang shakes hands on Wednesday with Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the China-Britain Business Council, during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY)

China welcomes foreign enterprises, including those from the United Kingdom, to continue investing in the country, Premier Li Qiang said on Wednesday, reiterating Beijing's commitment to further opening-up.

In the meeting with a delegation led by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, chair of the China-Britain Business Council, Li expressed his hope that the council and British businesses will champion the stable and smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains.

Cowper-Coles, along with several senior executives of British businesses, is on a weeklong visit to China that started on Monday. The delegation went to Shanghai as well as Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, before arriving in Beijing.

The council has promoted trade and investment with China since 1954, and it has played an important role in helping shape bilateral relations between the two countries.

Li applauded the council's contribution to the "Icebreaking Mission "of 1953, which saw the first Western trade delegation visit the People's Republic of China and started the flow of trade between China and the UK.

A sound China-UK relationship is in the interests of both countries as well as the world, the premier said, adding that Beijing is willing to strengthen dialogue and deepen cooperation with London.

He called for respecting each other's major interests and concerns, making mutual benefits the nature of the bilateral relationship, and pushing bilateral relations forward on the right track for sustained, steady and long-term development.

Cowper-Coles said the council supports China in advancing reform and opening-up and achieving high-quality development.

The council would like to continue to play its role as a bridge and make positive contributions to UK-China cooperation, he added.

The UK is China's third-largest trading partner, second-largest investment destination and third-largest source of actual investment in Europe, according to the Foreign Ministry.

China is the largest trading partner for the UK within Asia, with bilateral trade reaching $97.9 billion last year.

Ding Chun, director of Fudan University's Center for European Studies, said the meeting showed the importance that China attaches to the development of Sino-British economic and trade relations, and signaled that Beijing welcomes UK investment in order to promote high-level opening-up.

It also demonstrated the emphasis that China places on the historical and current role of the council, as well as the influence of entrepreneurs in the bilateral relationship, he said.

Ding said that economic and trade relations serve as the ballast for the China-UK relationship.

In 2023, actual UK investment in China increased 81 percent year-on-year, according to Ding.

Despite challenges in bilateral trade cooperation, both sides have the impetus to develop their economies and should further strengthen cooperation in the post-Brexit and post-pandemic era, he said.

There are broad prospects for bilateral cooperation in areas such as service trade, financial collaboration and cooperation in third-party markets, he added.


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