Melina Rauter

Initiating Cooperation: The Third UK-China Business Leaders Summit Takes Off

'Investment in the UK Forum' panel discussion at the Summit with distinguished guests Dr Jonathan CHOI, Chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong William Cadogan, owner of Cadogan Estate, George Azar,  Chairman & CEO of UK Sotheby's International Realty, Richard Divall, Head of Capital Markets  ULIVING, and Prof. Jianfeng Peng PHD supervisor at Renming University. Picture provided by the organizer.

The Third UK-China Business Leaders Summit, a pinnacle event in fostering economic cooperation between China and the UK, is currently underway in London from May 27 to 29. Renowned for its capacity to unite entrepreneurs, policymakers, and scholars from both nations, this summit is poised to drive collaborative efforts across a multitude of sectors.

The Summit is hosted by the UK Chinese Business Association (UKCBA), co-hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, and supported by the Chinese Embassy in the UK and the UK Embassy in China. Drawing over 400 entrepreneurs and representatives, the summit aims to delve into diverse areas of Sino-British cooperation, bolstering global development initiatives.

The summit aims to highlight how, amidst the current international landscape and the post-pandemic era, opportunities can be discerned and utilized to foster commercial collaborations between China, the UK, and the world at large. The event serves as a platform for facilitating business partnerships and cultural exchanges, acting as a conduit and bridge amidst prevailing uncertainties.

Opening Ceremony of the Summit. Picture by Ruoxi Zhu.

Participating entrepreneurs at the Summit. Picture provided by the organizer.

Spanning three days, the summit kicked off with preliminary communications and exchanges among attending enterprises and representatives on May 27. The subsequent days will witness the formal inauguration ceremony on May 28, featuring keynote addresses from high-ranking officials, renowned entrepreneurs, experts, and opinion leaders from both China and the UK. Additionally, representatives from enterprises on both sides will engage in the signing of memoranda of cooperation, laying a solid foundation for deeper collaboration.

The start of the summit on May 27 was a success and was graced by esteemed guests including the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, Lord David Willetts, Fellow of the Royal Society and Chairman of the Foundation for Science and Technology, 2010 Nobel Prize winner in Physics Sir Andre Konstantin Geim, and the Chairman of the 48 Group Club, Stephen Perry.

Chinese Ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang delivers a speech. Picture provided by the organizer.

In his speech, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, acknowledged the current global instability and sluggish economic recovery. Despite these challenges, he noted the significant achievements in trade between China and the UK. Ambassador Zheng highlighted that China’s economy has had a strong start this year, with new technologies, new business models, and new industries emerging prominently in traditional sectors, alongside open and inclusive economic policies. He further remarked that over the past three years, bilateral trade between the two countries has consistently exceeded $100 billion and contrary to expectations, British investments in China have not decreased but have actually increased.

In addition, he highlighted that Chinese companies are adopting a very positive attitude towards expanding investments in the UK. He noted that bilateral investments have extended beyond traditional fields such as trade, finance, manufacturing, and infrastructure and into new areas like healthcare, green technology, green finance, new energy, the digital economy, and creative industries.

He stressed that the two countries should not be hindered by the pessimistic remarks of some Western politicians or be distracted by their obstacles. Instead, they must adhere to the direction of dialogue and cooperation, continuously exploring new avenues of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the UK, which aligns with the fundamental interests of both nations. Ambassador Zheng reiterated that regardless of political changes, China will work with insightful individuals from all sectors in the UK to further advance China-UK relations based on mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and equality and mutual benefit.

The Vice President of the China Overseas Friendship Association, Chen Xu, emphasized the importance of people-to-people connections in fostering national relations. She pointed out how the friendship between nations lies in the closeness of their people, and the closeness of their people lies in the connectivity of their hearts. She expressed that UK and Chinese entrepreneurs act as bridges linking the two countries, serving as envoys of Sino-British friendship and cooperation. Chen emphasized a strong desire for these entrepreneurs to leverage their strengths, driving exchanges in various fields through economic and trade cooperation, thereby enhancing mutual understanding and trust. She underscored the importance of solidifying the foundation of grassroots friendship to bring tangible benefits to the people of both countries and to promote the healthy, stable, and sustainable development of UK-China relations.

Vice President of the China Overseas Friendship Association, Xu Chen, delivers a speech at the Summit. Picture provided by the organizer.

During the opening ceremony, Lord David Willetts, Fellow of the Royal Society and Chairman of the Foundation for Science and Technology, proudly recalled establishing the Newton Fund with the Chinese government to support joint research in agriculture, life sciences, and health. He praised the active involvement of British life sciences companies like AstraZeneca and GSK in China and welcomed Chinese life sciences companies to the UK.

Fellow of Royal society, Chairman of Foundation for Science and Technology and Former minister for Universities and Sciences, Lord David Willetts delivers a speech. Picture provided by the organizer.

2010 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Sir Andre Konstantin Geim, left a video message and remarked how "This summit serves as a vital bridge facilitating communication and cooperation," emphasizing its role in addressing global challenges like carbon neutrality and economic growth through technological innovation.

2010 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Sir Andre Konstantin Geim left a video message at the Summit. Picture by Ruoxi Zhu.

Additionally, Stephen Perry, the former Chairman of the 48 Club Group, highlighted the evolving UK-China relationship by recounting his father's initial trade mission to China in the 1950s, emphasizing the importance of continued collaboration, stating, "Business is the glue between people."

 Former Chairman of 48 Group Club Stephen Perry delivers a speech at the Summit. Picture provided by the organizer.

During the afternoon sessions, sparks of intellectual debate ignited among experts in three major forums: Investment in the UK, Women's Leadership, and the Inheritance and Innovation of Entrepreneurship in the Youth Forum. These discussions covered topics such as healthcare, culture and tourism, education, fintech, and young leaders, each delving into more detail about the medical industry, cultural innovation, Sino-British educational cooperation, financial technology, and youth entrepreneurship. Other forums addressed the overseas development of Chinese high-tech enterprises, exploring topics like women's empowerment and collaboration opportunities for Chinese tech firms abroad.

'Women's leadership and creativity in the new era' panel discussion at the Summit. Picture provided by the organizer.

At the Youth Leadership sub-forum, the first committee of the Youth Chamber of Commerce of the UK Chinese Business Association made its debut and signed an agreement with Huaxia Foundation, becoming a special consultant for the UK Chinese Business Association Youth Committee. Meanwhile, the "Oversea Young Business Leaders China Tour" was launched.

Additionally, ceremonies were held for the plaque unveiling of the UK Chinese Business Association's liaison office in China, as well as for the liaison offices in Dalian, Liaoning Province, and Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. Three professional committees on trade and retail, innovation and technology, and culture and arts were established and inaugurated, while a volunteer award ceremony was also conducted.

Group photo of the first committee of the Youth Chamber of Commerce and the UK Chinese Business Association Youth Committee. Picture provided by the organizer.

In an exclusive interview with China Minutes, George Azar, Chairman and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty, discussed the company's global strategy and its efforts to attract Chinese investors. Azar noted that Sotheby's International Realty, the world's largest estate agency in the super prime sector, established its UK offices six months ago and promptly began operations.

George Azar, Chairman & CEO of UK Sotheby's International Realty, Dubai Sotheby's International Realty, and Saudi Arabia Sotheby's International Realty delivers a speech at the forum. Picture by Ruoxi Zhu.

Highlighting the company's extensive network, he stated, "We have an office already out in Hong Kong for Sotheby’s, and we already collaborate with them. We also have offices in Taiwan and Dubai, supported by a team of Chinese consultants who work on the market and support it in every single way possible."

He further mentioned the company's multicultural workforce, with 30 different nationalities, as a key strength in bridging cultural gaps and building trust with diverse clients. Azar also emphasized the importance of summits like these in fostering international collaborations, noting they "give an opportunity for potential investors to listen to different opinions and make their own judgment," thereby helping the world grow and diversify its client base.

On May 29, the entrepreneurs from China and the UK will participate in a friendly golf match to further engage in enterprise visits, business discussions, industry exchanges, and project inspections.

In today's world, the geopolitical landscape and the global division of labour in industries are undergoing profound changes, leading to increased uncertainty for businesses worldwide. However, at the same time, the green revolution and technological innovation have reached a critical point of breakthrough, and global investors and industries are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the dividends of a new technological revolution. The summit focuses on providing a practical platform for entrepreneurs from China, the UK, and around the world to engage in substantive exchanges, exploring how to discern new opportunities amidst the prevailing uncertainties. Through cooperation in finance, investment, industry, and technology, the summit aims to seize business opportunities.

Melina RauterKailun Sui

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