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Minister Ma Hui Attends Asia House's Conference on the UK's Belt and Road Strategy after Brexit

On February 19, Minister Ma Hui of the Chinese Embassy in the UK attended Asia House’s Conference on the UK’s Belt and Road Strategy after Brexit held in partnership with Asia Research Institute of the University of Nottingham in London. Sir Douglas Flint, the UK’s Special Envoy to the BRI and Chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen, Minister Ma, Michael Lawrence, Chief Executive of Asia House, Stephen King, Senior Economic Advisor of HSBC, and Dame Mary Marsh, Member of the Asia Advisory Board for the University of Nottingham were among the speakers at the panel discussion. Around 150 guests were present, including Lord Howell of Guildford, Member of the House of Lords and Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group, Lord Sassoon, Member of the House of Lords and Chairman of China-Britain Business Council, David Sayer, Vice Chairman of KPMG, representatives from British parliament, business, academic and media sectors, international organizations, such as European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and foreign diplomats in the UK.

Sir Douglas said, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aiming at enhancing connectivity, deepening practical cooperation, and delivering common development, is highly valued by all relevant parties and has achieved fruitful outcomes in recent years. The BRI offers huge cooperation opportunities to the British industrial and commercial sector. Cooperation with China on BRI matches well with the UK’s “global Britain” vision after Brexit and gives impetus to the continuous development of the “Golden Era” of UK-China relationship. Through the encouraging phone conversation with President Xi Jinping, PM Boris Johnson reinforced the UK’s readiness to enhance cooperation with China on the BRI, which is incredibly important. The UK side is ready to give play to its strengths in finance, legislation and management, actively participating in BRI cooperation with China in a supportive and constructive manner, so as to work closely with China to address the major challenges facing the world, such as population growth, economic inequality, migration trends and climate change.

In his speech, Minister Ma said that the BRI adheres to the concepts of openness, cooperation, mutual learning, inclusiveness and win-win, which not only benefits China but also the world, promoting economic globalization toward a more open, inclusive, beneficial to all and balanced direction, achieving a sustainable development of the whole world. The BRI not only attaches importance to economic and trade cooperation, but also to people-to-people and cultural exchanges. It values not only economic development but also environmental protection. With facts and statistics, Minister Ma refuted the absurd labels pinned on the BRI by some western politicians and academics, such as “geopolitics”, “exporting pollution” and “debt trap diplomacy”. He also took questions regarding cyber security in the process of building digital BRI, US containing China’s high-tech development and China-UK cooperation in the third market.

Minister Ma reiterated the huge BRI opportunities for China and the UK to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and commended the British government on attaching importance to the BRI and its active participation in BRI construction. Over the past 3 years, the cooperation between China and the UK on the BRI is never stagnant, and growing outcomes have been achieved, despite of the long process the UK has gone through to finalize Brexit. There is a sound momentum in China-UK relations as the UK leaves the EU. The phone call between President Xi Jinping and PM Boris Johnson is of great significance. The two leaders agreed to carry out more practical cooperation in China-UK relations in the next decade. Minister Ma hoped that the UK will continue pioneering in its efforts to leverage mutual complementarities with China, deepen bilateral, multilateral and the third market cooperation with China under the frame work of the BRI to achieve mutually beneficial and win-win results, jointly upholding multilateralism, promoting free trade and building open world economy.

Guests at the conference agreed that, the BRI plays a positive role in promoting cooperation among different countries and strengthening common development. It is a public good provided by China to the whole world. For post-Brexit Britain, participation in the BRI will help the UK expand its global partnership, safeguard its own interests and promote global prosperity. They spoke highly of China’s effective measures in fighting against the Covid-19 epidemic, believing that the outbreak will not change the economic growth of China in a long run. They also gave their best wishes to China on winning the battle against the epidemic as quickly as possible and expressed their readiness to seize the BRI opportunity to deepen cooperation with China.

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