The demand of the Chinese market and the expertise of the United Kingdom’s (UK) financial industry have made the continuation of financial cooperation a win-win scenario for both countries, John McLean, chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD) for the City of London, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
“China has a population that is rapidly becoming wealthier and financially more sophisticated, which offers opportunities,” McLean said, noting that China’s economy is steadily growing due to its huge internal market, highly successful global companies and the leading role it plays in some key and developing technologies.
The UK, and especially the City of London, which has a cluster of global financial organizations and experts and a long history in providing financial services, gives access to global capital and investors to actually support that growth, he said.
McLean applauded the existing deep ties between his country and China’s capital markets, including the Shanghai-London Stock Connect and the recently announced Shenzhen-London Stock Connect. London, a leading foreign exchange market, has also actively adopted the internationalization of the renminbi, he added.
Stressing the importance of green development, McLean said that “green is the new driver” of UK-China financial cooperation. Both countries have been keen players in green finance, such as green bond issuance, he said.
McLean, also chair of the UK-China Business Development Center and a senior adviser to the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, listed several other areas in which businesses in the UK and China could further cooperate. These include education, pharmaceuticals, the arts, green energy and electric vehicles.
McLean said that although the people-to-people and government-to-government exchanges between the UK and China were considerably reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, business-to-business ties have continued unabated.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK-China trade in goods increased in 2022. China was the UK’s second largest trading partner in goods imports and the fifth largest in goods exports.
Asked about his expectations for China’s economic performance in the near future, McLean said he was optimistic. He cited early data from the first two months of this year as indicating that a 5 percent economic growth in 2023 could be a reality rather than just a forecast.
“What we have to do is ensure that Chinese businesses feel welcome in the UK and that it applies the other way round,” McLean said.
Founded in 1903, the IoD is one of the UK’s longest running organizations for company directors, senior business leaders and entrepreneurs from various sectors, including finance, property, education and international trade.