Chancellor George Osborne has called for Britain and China to “stick together” as “partners in growth”, as he addressed financiers at the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
Osborne offered a message of solidarity with the far eastern giant in the wake of the summer’s Asian financial meltdown, which saw prices in Shanghai slide by 8.5% in a single day.
He said he had specifically chosen the “epicentre” of the financial turmoil to deliver the keynote speech of his five-day tour of China in order to drive home his message that market volatility should not get in the way of Britain developing closer financial and commercial links with a country whose economy had grown 20-fold since his first visit as a backpacking student.
Osborne said: “I believe our two countries are perfectly positioned to be partners in growth. Britain can be China’s best partner in the West.
“Of course there will be ups and downs on the road ahead, but by sticking together we can make this a golden era for the UK-China relationship for many, many years to come.”
He hailed the potential of proposals for a new direct link between the London and Shanghai stock exchanges which he said would allow UK firms to raise funds from Chinese savers and Chinese firms to invest in Britain.
He rejected the argument that Britain should respond to Chinese volatility by drawing back from the financial linkages established over the last few years, which have seen the city become the largest trading centre for the renminbi currency outside Asia.
“I want to take the opposite path,” the chancellor. said. “Building more bridges over the next five years.”
He added: “Connecting our stock markets means more jobs, more investment, higher living standards in both our countries.”
To questions over whether the appetite existed in London for the new short-term bonds due to be offered, for the first time outside China, by the People’s Bank of China, Mr Osborne insisted: “There is an enormous appetite and it’s only going to grow.”
And he said: “I want the City of London to be the global partner of choice for China as it raises finance on the international markets.”
Osborne said he wanted the UK to learn from China’s success in developing nuclear power stations and a high speed rail network.
The chancellor also said he wanted to see UK broadcasters export shows like Downton Abbey and Sherlock and films like the James Bond series to China.
And he said he wanted UK construction firms and architects to help China “build new cities and new airports”.
By 2020, British exports to China could reach more than £30bn (€41bn), he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved