Sichuan aims to strengthen links with UK

By LI WENSHA | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-09-08 17:35

Sichuan aims to strengthen links with UK

Jin Xu, the minister counsellor of the Chinese embassy in Britain, speaks at a forum in Cambridge, UK on Sept 6, 2017. [Photo/]

China's southwest Sichuan province is seeking to develop closer ties with the United Kingdom through the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Around 300 entrepreneurs, officials and scholars met at a two-day forum held at the University of Cambridge this week.

The gathering, organized by the UK-Sichuan Business Association under the theme of "Cooperation, Development and Win-Win", sought to promote partnerships for effective implementation of the initiative.

A business delegation from Sichuan, headed by a Sichuan provincial government official, also extended its invitation to the British people to go to the province and explore new opportunities.

Home of giant pandas, Sichuan is twice the size of the UK.

Historically, it was at the heart of the Silk Road. It was in Sichuan that paper money was first invented.

Today, the UK is Sichuan's second-largest trading partner in Europe.

In 2016, trade volume between Sichuan and the UK was $860 million, an increase of 8 percent on the previous year.

"Sichuan is really benefiting from the Belt and Road Initiative," said Yang Chunxuan, deputy chief of Sichuan Provincial Department of Commerce, when addressing the forum on Wednesday. "We were originally an inland province, but now we have become the frontline of China's opening-up to the West and to the South." Put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to promote cooperation among the countries along the ancient Silk Road trade routes and beyond.

More than 150 enterprises and businesses from the UK have invested in Sichuan in sectors such as finance, technology, education, culture, health, logistics, research, development, innovation and transportation.

Sichuan also has fast routes connecting to Europe.

Chengdu-Europe express rail, which was launched four years ago, is set to make about 1,000 journeys this year.

China's exports to the UK increased by 5 percent in the first half of this year, while imports from the UK grew by 20 percent, said Jin Xu, the minister counsellor of the Chinese embassy in Britain.

He hoped British enterprises would be able to seize the opportunities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative to increase cooperation with their Chinese counterparts.

"It's really an opportunity for Sichuan to participate so significantly in President Xi's policy of the 'One Belt, One Road'," said Barry Rider, professor at Cambridge University's Center for Development Studies.

He added: "Now, of course, Britain is particularly interested- perhaps even more so with Brexit looming-in fostering a new generation of opportunities for trade and business, finance, technology, biotech, many of those new and important industries."


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