The United Kingdom expects to forge concrete cooperation plans with China in the grand blueprint for the Belt and Road Initiative at a forum scheduled in May, the UK ambassador to China said on March 31.
“We are very much looking forward to the Belt and Road forum ... and looking forward to the UK making a significant, practical contribution to delivering the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Ambassador Barbara Woodward.
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which China will host, will be held in Beijing in May, and cooperation relating to the initiative “will be a highlight for the UK-China relationship this year”, she said.
The two countries have already engaged in cooperative efforts to that end. Woodward said they have got companies working together in Pakistan, a significant venue in the initiative.
The China-Britain Business Council has done a great deal of research about “how relative strength could be complementary in this area”, the ambassador said.
“For example, many Chinese companies got a lot of experience in infrastructure development in a lot of the Belt and Road countries and regions, but British companies can offer experience in project design, engineering, sustainable green growth and management consultancy and services.”
“We can see a huge opportunity for the UK and China to cooperate in practical terms.”
Woodward said she is confident that discussions among leaders and experts at the forum will lead to “further practical steps ... to make this project really work to deliver the vision of President Xi Jinping, and more importantly, development and trade and stability along the countries and regions of the Belt and Road”.
On March 31, European Council President Donald Tusk sent draft Brexit negotiating guidelines to leaders of Britain’s 27 EU partners.
“The prime minister is clear that there is no turning back, we are leaving the EU, but this represents an opportunity for Britain to be truly global.”
“We look forward to developing partnerships with all countries around the world, but, particularly, I think China will be very important in that.”
Although the UK is leaving the EU, it will remain a very open economy, she said.
“We have been steadily introducing policies that make the UK more and more open to investment,” Woodward said, adding the UK might be “the most open country in the world to investment from China”.
In a light moment, the ambassador talked about the news that the full set of mathematics textbooks used in Shanghai primary schools will be introduced to the UK.
“We are delighted about this.” The UK education system enjoys a very high reputation, but the Chinese education system has its own extraordinary strength, she said.
She said Britain has introduced mathematics teachers from Shanghai to teach in the UK. “And the children have loved it. Their mathematics has got much better as a result.” So now, the textbooks will also be introduced.
“I think that represents part of the wide cooperation between our two countries,” the ambassador said.