Cooperation on the Belt and Road project could help strengthen China-UK ties

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/9 0:03:39

Why does China value the role of the UK in the One Belt One Road initiative? It is worth thinking about. Reuters reported on Wednesday that "China has invited British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend a major summit in May" concerning the initiative, citing a Beijing-based diplomatic source. The summit will likely serve as leverage for Sino-UK relations if May meets with China's top leaders during the visit.

With concerns expressed by some Western media that the glow of the golden era in Sino-UK ties lauded by the previous British government has faded, the initiative will give the two nations a fresh opportunity to facilitate economic interactions. Despite a recent Financial Times' report quoting Chinese officials saying that there were no active plans to sell yuan-denominated sovereign bonds after last summer's landmark auction in the UK, there is no reason to worry that bilateral financial interactions have become sluggish and degraded. The initiative will result in substantial opportunities for cooperation in the financial sector for Chinese firms to increase their investment in the UK.

It's possible that the UK's participation in the initiative could create a demonstration effect. In 2015 Germany, France and Italy followed the UK's lead in seeking membership in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Now growing cooperation between Britain and China could attract attention from continental Europe.

Despite uncertainties for the UK following its vote to leave the EU, the strategic significance of the nation in China's diplomatic landscape is not in decline. On the contrary, China is likely to give more weight to the UK as US President Donald Trump makes his anti-globalization stance.

Some observers believe the UK can be a beacon of trade liberalization as the nation expands its trade links with other countries by signing new free trade agreements after Brexit. A sound atmosphere advocating free trade is crucial for the two countries to expand cooperation in a wide range of fields including advancing the One Belt One Road initiative.

China's increasing interaction with the UK, which is of great significance for global economic governance, has attracted a lot of attention. If the two countries can follow through on their promises of enhancing economic cooperation and supporting free trade, the results will certainly bring a new momentum to global growth.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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