Interview: China-UK cooperation on Belt and Road perfect fit: UK business leader
China and Britain can enjoy a mutually beneficial and advantage complement relationship in developing China’s Belt and Road Initiative, said Lord James Sassoon, chairman of (CBBC), in an interview
CHINESE BUSINESSES COMING TO UK
The CBBC is an organization which represents British businesses doing business with China and Chinese businesses doing business in Britain.
Sassoon said what his council cares most is where its members have business opportunities and how to best support them. Their members have historically been British businesses, and now include Chinese businesses coming to Britain.
“One of our roles, which I think we are uniquely doing in recent years and will continue to do so, is looking at what the important policies of the Chinese government are and interpreting those for our members so that they can more easily identify the business opportunities that flow.” Sassoon said.
He said the two classic areas at the moment are the Belt and Road Initiative and Made in China 2025. China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to develop trade and cultural links between Asia, Africa and Europe.
China describes Made in China 2025 as a national initiative to improve the manufacturing industry — initially up to 2025 and then on to 2035 and 2049.
The CBBC sees the goal is to transform China into a leading manufacturing power, as China strives to move up the value chain, to avoid being pinched at one end by lower cost countries and at the other end by higher quality manufacturers around the world.
Sassoon said that the Belt and Road Initiative is not only about projects in third countries but also has a “very important domestic Chinese component about it.”
This ties in with the China 2025 initiative, Sassoon said, adding that the CBBC aims to raise collaboration between British and Chinese businesses to a new level.
“There is a great plan laid out as to which province, city will take the lead in areas of high-end manufacturing,” he said, noted that the important thing is “how do British companies know in practical terms where should they go to.”
On the Belt and Road Initiative, a joint report produced by CBBC and China’s Tsinghua University in 2016 said China and Britain were working together on 21 billion dollars worth of projects in 10 countries.
“It was getting the UK to think about the fact it is for real, it is happening between UK and China and third countries, and to think about it in a broad way, not just narrowly in terms of infrastructure projects,” said Sassoon.
STRENGTHS MUTUALLY USEFUL
Britain has strengths that are useful to China, and can benefit from China’s certain capacities when both sides collaborate.
Sassoon said Britain is not in competition with China for construction projects, and the complementary nature of the two nations’ strengths is a “a perfect fit, a classic win-win.”
“I don’t believe there is any country that has such a well-balanced and complete package of professional services as the UK,” said Sassoon, adding that many projects around the world have been done under British law because it is considered the best law of choice.
Also in architecture and design, and education on standards of completing projects, Britain has a lot to offer, Sassoon said.
“My contention is that there is a more complete suite of professional services for all aspects of Belt and Road and other third country projects that the UK has to offer,” he said.
“Chinese heavy lifting on the engineering of projects with the complete package of services, fits together beautifully,” said Sassoon.
“I think many of the countries on the Belt and Road need help with defining what the appropriate standards are on these projects — the contracting, the procurement, the appropriate financing structures and I think the UK has a great opportunity.”
In Sassoon’s eyes, Britain is the best international standard setter and can collaborate with related countries in areas where the Belt and Road Initiative will operate, such as Central Asia, South East Asia, and Africa.