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Speech on China-Britain Business Council Seminar on Opportunities for UK Business in China's Regional Cities"

2011-12-13

[On 13th December, China Britain Business Council held a seminar on "Opportunities for UK Business in China's Regional Cities" in Manchester. Consul General Pan Yundong was invited to give a speech.]

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very glad to meet you all here. Thanks for the China-Britain Business Council for inviting me to exchange views with you on the opportunities for UK Business in China's regional cities.

The CBBC has advanced a very catching topic, as it guides you to the promising and untapped regional cities of China. I know many of you already have business links with China, and some of you have offices in China. But I guess most of your offices are in big eastern cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc. Most of the regional cities, or in another word, medium-small cities, have not been screened by your business radar. I would like to clarify one thing here. The term "Medium-small cities" in Chinese context suffices to be large cities in other countries, because for Chinese, a city cannot be called large if its population is less than 10 million.

As you know, China has maintained a high speed growth for 33 years since 1978, and China is the second largest economy in the world. However, the past development of China was not well balanced. Whereas the eastern part of China advances to prosperity, the huge middle and western part remains relatively backward; whereas the big cities reaches relatively high level, the potential of regional cities are stalled for future growth.

CBBC researcher presenting their report

In fact, China's regional cities bear the same excellent opportunities as the large ones, and have their own advantages. Here I just raise four points for your considerations:

Firstly, the good bilateral relations between China and UK provide sound political environment for you to explore business in China, including its regional cities. In June this year, when China's Premier Wen Jiabao visited the UK, he and Prime Minister Cameron both agreed to double the trade volume to 100 bn USD by 2015. In September, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Chancellor George Osborne co-chaired the fourth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in London and signed an MOU on strengthening infrastructure cooperation and established an infrastructure task force. These high-level substantial visits sent out the clear message that both the two governments attach great importance to the bilateral relations, and are keen to developing mutually beneficiary cooperations. On 8th November, the UK-China Infrastructure Investment Conference was successfully launched in London. Several days ago, on 28th of last month, Mr Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corporation, which controls China's national sovereign fund, announced the company's interest in investing in UK's infrastructure. Next year, we will see the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ambassadorial diplomatic relationship between our two countries, which portends new opportunities for the their relationship. Last year, although the west suffered from economic slack, China-UK trade surpassed 50 bn USD, with a 40% increase of UK export to China. In the first 3 quarters of this year, UK export to China increased again by 30% compared with last year. Secondly, like the large cities, China's regional cities possess equally excellent soft and hard infrastructure and talent advantages. China's central government has stipulated specially favorable policies for regional cities. We lashed out the Developing the Vast West strategy in 2000. All of the following 3 consecutive 5-Year Plans, including the 12th 5-Year Plan released this year, underscores the development of regional cities. After more than 30 years of hardworking, most of the regional cities today are equipped with hard infrastructure like highways, airports, railways, etc., as well as soft infrastructure like systematic laws and regulations encouraging economic cooperations. Thus they have built the business-friendly environment. China has more than 4000 colleges and universities. In last year alone, there were 7.58 million college graduates. Most of them start their career in regional cities, and consist the stable and reliable human resource for the development of the regional cities they live in.

 

WYG Group briefing their perspective

Thirdly, the moment for China's regional cities to take-off has come. The very purpose of our past incessant construction in regional cities on roads, airports, institutions, and trainings, is to promote China's scientific development, eliminating the differences between regions and cities. In the macro perspective, in the 12th 5-Year Plan period, China is in the conjunction from industrialization to urbanization, and the latter will speed up. According to some calculation, in 2015,China's urban population will exceed rural population. Regional cities will be the main carrier of urbanization. In the local aspect, the achievements of large cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, drive the regional cities to catch-up.

Last but not least, the development of China's regional cities is specially tailored to UK business. I remember several days ago, Financial Times analyzed the opportunities brought about to UK by China's development. It says that China's development in the past 30 years benefited countries good at manufacturing, namely Germany, more, while China's future development means more opportunities for countries good at service and management, namely UK. Although this paper always reports China short of reality--of course, its reports of UK are often less than accurate as I believe the UK is also a manufacturing power, just look at the products of Rolls Royals--nonetheless, I partially agree with the report, that China's future development bears specially opportunity for UK. Both China and the UK have comparative strengths. Our two economies complement each other neatly. I believe, each of you may find suitable opportunities for your business in the development of China's regional cities.

Once again, many thanks to the CBBC for inviting me to this seminar. Allow me to wish you every success, and wish all of you harvest good business opportunities in the development of China's regional cities.

Thank you.

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