It’s great to be here, surrounded by the very best of British and Chinese business. And it marks a key moment in this historic State Visit.
One of the foremost elements of this visit is the huge number of commercial deals that we are signing – totalling almost £40 billion.
And this event is about bringing together business leaders from both the UK and China to finalise and celebrate these deals, but also to strengthen the links that will ensure more trade and more investment, for both our countries.
Now of course we talked about deals, and we talked about billions of pounds – but what this really means is jobs. It means livelihoods. It means security. I think of the engineers employed building those new London taxis, I think of the scientists who spend perhaps their whole careers at this new Hinkley Point nuclear power station. I think of the apprentices who will be at Rolls Royce building those aero engines again with great skill and a great career for the future. To me, that’s what all of this is about.
In the last 5 and a half years, I have been determined to build a stronger relationship between Britain and China. If you look at our 2 countries today, and the progress we have made is evident for all to see.
In China, people are watching Downton Abbey, eating Scottish salmon, they’re driving Jaguars made in the West Midlands; and in Britain, where we’ve got houses being built with Chinese money and airports like Heathrow being invested in by Chinese companies.
Look at our House of Commons – where our first-ever Member of parliament of Chinese origin, Alan Mak, has been elected. [Political content removed.]
The deals that have been done during this visit cement what is a growing partnership:
- Carnival signing a £2.6 billion joint venture making cruise ships, guaranteeing jobs in both countries
- BP concluding oil and gas in deals worth over £12 billion
- Rolls Royce signing a new deal worth £1.4 billion for aeroplane engines, guaranteeing jobs and investment here in the UK
- Sinophi signing a £700 million contract to build hospitals in China
- and, looking to the future, cooperation signed today between both Oxford and Cambridge and Chinese partners, covering innovative medical research and broader research
That’s right: billions of pounds of deals done, thousands of jobs won – good for China, and good for Britain.
And these deals are not just one way – Chinese investment is flowing into the UK, and UK companies are investing in China. Both the UK and China are driving forward ambitious economic growth and regeneration agendas – the UK through the Northern Powerhouse and China through President Xi’s “One Belt, One Road”.
This visit is taking our relationship to the next level. I want to ensure that our cooperation and partnership means we can support each other to deliver the growth and jobs we both want to make sure that trade and investment flows both ways along the modern equivalent of the Silk Road.
That’s why, since coming to power, this government has taken the big decisions that mean that the UK and China will be fuelling each other’s economies far into the future. On Hinkley, we’ve agreed a deal which will provide energy to thousands of homes across the UK, improve technical cooperation and expertise in China and create jobs in both countries in its construction.
On the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the UK was the first western country to apply for membership – a decision that will enable much needed infrastructure investment into the region to drive growth, with opportunities for British business in both the major projects and the growth they will generate.
And this week’s agreement by China to issue their first sovereign Renminbi bond outside of Greater China will enhance London’s position as a hub for Chinese financial activity, while increasing China’s access to our world leading financial services technology, and help them increase foreign investment.
And, through these deepening economic and financial ties, commercial and business cooperation, we are also seeing a deepening of our broader partnership. President Xi and I first met back in 2007, when we were in different jobs. Back then, we both promised to nurture and develop the relationship between our countries.
Mr President, I believe we are both making good on that promise. Not only through our economic partnership, but through the talks we have had today and will continue tomorrow on the issues that affect both our countries in the world. From trade policy and tackling corruption, to fighting climate change and ending poverty.
I am clear that the UK is China’s best partner in the West – and that this is in both our national interests.
Earlier this week, I was delighted to welcome the inspirational entrepreneur Jack Ma to Downing Street. Jack is setting up his European HQ right here in London – helping British business, large and small, to sell more to China through his network.
Jack spoke of the importance of empowering each other if we are to generate success in the 21st century. And what he said applies not only to business, but to the broader relationship between Britain and China.
Our countries will always be far apart geographically. But in the modern era they can – and they will – become much closer economically. And together they can work more closely in confronting the problems that face our world. That is my goal; and that is President Xi’s goal too.
So let’s go on winning those contracts, winning those jobs, winning that growth; let’s go on helping each other to do so; empowering each other – because together, we can win prosperity, and we can win economic security – for all our people.