Chinese business leaders have called for a ‘new chapter’ with the UK – as they prepare to invest billions in ‘Brexit Britain’ and create thousands of jobs over the next two years.
An unprecedented survey of Chinese companies operating in the UK by the China Chamber of Commerce (CCCUK) reveals they are optimistic about the British economy and profit growth as it separates from Brussels.
And CCCUK chair Wenjian Fang – general manager of Bank of China in London – called for an “improved dialogue” between Britain and China so both economies can prosper over the coming decade.
He warned that the deteriorating political climate and moves by MPs to close the door on Chinese investment could force some Chinese business out of Britain.
It follows the Huawei 5G mobile network controversy, which has seen the Chinese firm’s involvement banned over fears of State links and a threat to security.
Speaking ahead of the CCCUK Annual Economic and Trade Forum today, he said: “Our members stand ready to play their part as the Prime Minister seeks to ‘build, back, better’.
“They are confident about the resilience of the British economy, and they are planning to invest more and create jobs over the next two years.
“But it’s also clear the increasing geopolitical tensions are having an impact and some Chinese companies here could soon be at a point where they draw conclusions and look to move their money and expertise elsewhere.
“CCCUK will work with British business to keep doors open and deepen our economic partnership for the benefit of everyone.”
A 80-page report published by CCCUK – “2020 Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises in the UK” – at the Forum reveals the sheer breadth of the Sino-British economic relationship with companies operating everywhere from Scunthorpe to Manchester, Birmingham and Greater London.
While the turnover of the top 800 Chinese companies in the UK totals more than £90 billion, dozens of CCCUK’s members generate revenues of less than £5 million a year.
The top 800 Chinese companies already employ around 70,000 people across the UK.
The survey hails recent success such as Jingye’s rescue deal for British Steel, which saved 3,000 jobs, as well as Beijing Construction’s regeneration work in the North West.
Among the key findings, the report notes:
- 83 per cent of Chinese firms in the UK say that growing their existing business is among their top priorities
- 95 per cent view the UK as a crucial part of their global operations
- 75 per cent do not believe the Coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on their business beyond the end of 2021
- W64 per cent believe Brexit will have some negative impact overall
- 44 per cent claim a No Deal would have no impact whatsoever on their investment plans in Britain
- 74 per cent have reinvested all or the majority of their UK profits back into the UK
- 81 per cent of comapnies’ decisions are made solely by the UK management teams
The report also highlights that the Chinese business community backs the Government’s handling of Brexit and while keen to see a deal between Britain and the EU they back the Prime Minister’s vision on both freeports and a points-based immigration system.
They also want to play a part in helping Britain tackle climate change through the Prime Minister’s “Race to Zero” through new technology and by supporting a new generation of nuclear power plants.
Mr Fang said: “The ties between our two nations run deep and I remain hopeful that the partnership between the UK can survive and prosper.
“I truly believe that with the right, pragmatic approach and positive mindset, the relationship can grow, helping to create greater business opportunity and economic value for us all.”