London 'natural Western hub for Belt and Road'
Mayor visits China to promote capital’s services
The Lord Mayor of the City of London Charles Bowman has travelled to China on a nine-day visit to promote the United Kingdom capital as the “natural Western hub” of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Bowman, who acts as an ambassador for the UK's financial services industry, will meet members of the Chinese government as well as business leaders to discuss what role Britain can play in the China-proposed international development program.
The Lord Mayor arrived in China on Monday accompanied by a delegation including representatives from major UK banks, insurance companies, and accounting and law firms.
“Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s successful trip earlier this year, a key part of my visit will be promoting London’s role as the natural Western hub of the Belt and Road Initiative, for which firms in the City have much to offer,” Bowman said.
“I will also be delivering the message that London is truly open for business, and that the City’s position as an international financial center will very much continue after the UK leaves the European Union.”
The delegation will visit Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing before departing China on March 28.
Tom Troubridge, chairman of the China Business Group at accountancy firm PwC, said the delegation will meet Chinese banks and construction companies.
“We have assembled a very senior delegation representing the UK's key strengths in assurance, insurance and financing,” Troubridge said. “These are all the skills the Chinese government tell us are critical to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative, where infrastructure projects alone have been estimated at $25 trillion over the next three decades.”
Following government meetings in Beijing, Bowman will speak at a forum focused on the Xiong’an New Area - a new economic zone being constructed on the outskirts of Beijing, which the Chinese government aims to develop as a digital financial center.
In China’s tech hub Shenzhen, the delegation will be on the hunt for link-ups in the fintech sector.
Bowman will also promote London’s role in the Chinese government’s Greater Bay Area plan to develop an integrated economic and business hub linking Macau, Hong Kong and several cities in Guangdong province.
At the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong from March 21-24, the delegation will take part in discussions on the creation of a “digital silk road” which will involve fintech and blockchain technologies.
Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the Festival will act as a “shop window for the best of our creativity and innovation.
“The GREAT Festival of Innovation is underpinned by a shared desire to build on the success of longstanding trading relationships between Asia and the UK and to stimulate further growth, with the City of London vital for developing the ‘golden era’ of relations between our two countries,” Fox said.
Later, Bowman will meet the Mayor of Shanghai Ying Yong to re-sign a memorandum of understanding to support City companies doing business in the region.
The delegation includes banks HSBC, Standard Chartered, CitiBank, and JP Morgan, investors Standard Life Aberdeen, Barings and Green Investment Group, law firms Linklaters and DLA Piper, and accountancy firms KPMG, Deloitte and PwC.
Insurers from JLT Group, Aon and Ironshore have also traveled, along with representatives from the London Stock Exchange and the China-Britain Business Council.