China and the UK have signed almost £40bn of deals that David Cameron said would create thousands of jobs and make Britain Beijing’s partner of choice.
“What this really means is jobs, it means livelihoods, it means security,” he told the UK-China Business Summit held at London’s Mansion House on Wednesday.
The prime minister said he was determined to build a stronger relationship with China during his time in No 10, based on a relationship with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, that dates back to 2007 when the pair promised to “nurture and develop” links between the two nations.
“The deals that have been done during this visit cement what is a growing partnership,” he said.
“This visit is taking our relationship to the next level and I want to ensure that our cooperation and partnership means we can support each other to deliver the growth and the jobs that we both want – to make sure that the trade and investment flows both ways along the modern equivalent of the Silk Road.”
Among the deals signed during the four-day state visit by Xi is a £50m investment by Chinese carmaker Geely, which owns the London Taxi Company, to build a new fleet of zero-emission black cabs. Another deal involves Aston Martin agreeing to spend £50m with China Equity to develop its electric Rapide S sports car.
Cameron said he was looking forward to Rolls-Royce appointing new apprentices after signing a deal worth £1.4bn to design new jet engines. “I’m clear that the UK is China’s best partner in the west,” he added.
The largest single deal remained China’s commitment to buy a £6bn stake in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, though a £2.6bn contract with Carnival, the world’s largest cruise ship operator, to make new ships, and a £1.7bn agreement with Chinese developer Advanced Business Park to redevelop a 35-acre site in Liverpool and create up to 30,000 jobs, were also among the near £40bn of initiatives.
Xi has brushed aside concerns about his country’s faltering economy, telling an audience of business leaders in London that it would remain the powerhouse of the global economy.
He said “a ray of sunshine was dawning on the world economy” and “growth remains the trend and will not be altered by fluctuations in global markets”.
Speaking at the Mansion House during a landmark China-UK trade conference, also attended by Cameron, Xi said China had entered “a new normal” based on an open economy susceptible to volatile international pressures.
“There will be no turning back. We will stick to our win-win strategy of opening up the economy and China’s markets,” he said, adding that growth was important but also the quality of growth.
Xi told the summit there was enormous potential for trade with his country, which is expected to import around $10tn worth of goods and invest more than $500bn overseas over the next five years.
The president said Britain and China must now work to “deepen mutual trust”, deliver some tangible results off the back of the new relationship and “synergise” development strategies.
He added: “We are deeply impressed by the strong will and positive stance of the UK to grow relations and cooperation with China.”
This article was written by Phillip Inman Economics correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 21st October 2015 19.12 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010