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Corporate China To Boost China-UK Relations in the Golden Era

On the morning of February 2nd, British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Shanghai and attended China-UK Business Forum, where the Chinese and British entrepreneurs communicated to enhance the “Golden Era” of UK-China relations. Chairman Guo Guangchang delivered a speech from the perspective of technology driving the development of new finance and reinforcing Sino-British cooperation to boost the internationalization of RMB. Before the Forum, Chairman Guo also accompanied Prime Minister in the Yuyuan Garden to experience the Spring Festival atmosphere of China. So let’s listen to his speech.


Distinguished Prime Minister Theresa May,

Dear entrepreneurs from both China and Britain,


Welcome to Shanghai! We are very pleased to have Prime Minister Theresa May and all of you here in Shanghai where Fosun is based.


The destination of my first overseas business trip in 2018 was London, for two reasons. First, Fosun has already greatly invested in Britain with wide industry layout, such as Thomas Cook, the world’s first travel agency; Silver Cross, a 141-year-old baby carrier brand; Links of London, British high-end modern jeweler; The Floow, one of three global major Internet of Vehicle (IoV) data innovation service providers; as well as Resolution, British professional asset management platform. In addition, we also invested in Wolves, the first football club in the UK. Currently, it ranks the first in the Football League Championship. We are looking forward to its admission to the Premier League this year.


Second, the British economy has had a huge impact on the world; now it is the critical period of Brexit, and thus opinions about Brexit influence vary. So I also want to specifically go to the UK and visit the outstanding British entrepreneurs who are always helpful to us, like HSBC chairman Mark, to gain some insights.


Chairman Guo accompanied Prime Minister Theresa May in the Yuyuan Garden to experience the Spring Festival atmosphere of China


Through this journey, I have obtained a fairly clear insight that Brexit must have short-term impacts on the financial sector and other industries, but the British economy is still highly resilient with massive development opportunities. As every coin has two sides, we should take a long-term view. Specifically:


As an international financial center, London's economic status is not so fragile;

Many opportunities still exist in Britain's financial sector in the future.


Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Yuyuan Garden to experience the Spring Festival atmosphere of China


One is opportunity in FinTech through combination with high technology. The combination of technology and finance can more effectively address the pain points of the industry and individual customers so as to enable the services that cannot be provided by traditional finance, such as differential pricing of insurance and inclusive finance. From my perspective, this is just where FinTech matters most.


The development of FinTech is impossible without three underlying elements: active financial market, vast customer base, and innovative and creative vitality of the society. China is qualified in this regard, so the FinTech in China develops very rapidly, with remarkable achievements. I think, with the advantageous overall environment, including a more mature financial market, world-class universities such as Oxford and Cambridge and thus the world's top talent accumulation capacity, FinTech development is particularly favorable in Britain.


For example, The Floow invested by Fosun last year in the UK has already become one of three global major IoV data innovation service providers. Its business is to record your driving habits through a cell phone when you’re driving once authorized and submit the analysis results to automobile brand owners and insurance companies. With these data, the future of the car is bound to be better; the future of insurance products will also vary from person to person, and you don't have to pay more for the mistakes of others any more. Currently, The Floow has partnered widely with more than 20 insurance companies and automobile manufacturers worldwide.


So in my opinion, with FinTech, and technologies such as Internet, AI and blockchain, geography will no longer be a restriction, instead, really good products that can address the pain points of industries and customers are bound to stand out from the competition. That is why I’m so excited about.


The other one is a new opportunity for Britain's financial sector – to strengthen cooperation with China, and support and help with further internationalization of RMB.


China's current economic growth is globally recognized: we have become the world's second largest economy; we will maintain a steady growth at a reasonable pace over the next five to ten years; in addition, nearly 400 million middle-class population in China is rising, contributing to an improved spending power. The size of the future Chinese market will be equivalent to the combination of a United States + a Europe + a Japan.


I noticed in particular that when Prime Minister May met Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Xi also put forward to “create an enhanced the ‘Golden Era’ of China-UK relations”. So I think there is no reason for the different walks of life of Britain not to care about the Chinese market or not to increase the engagement with China.


Specifically in the financial sector, the direction of cooperation is very important, which is “the internationalization of RMB”. You can learn from leaders of many financial businesses present today that the proportion of the trade amount with RMB as the settlement currency in the total global trade amount indeed has been on the rise in recent years and that the future application of RMB in global trade will be increasingly extensive.


London is the world's largest foreign exchange market, as well as Europe's first RMB offshore clearing center, and has now become the world's second largest one only second to Hong Kong. In addition, RMB transacted in London market can effectively avoid overnight risk caused by time difference. London has a well-established infrastructure for RMB internationalization. Therefore, we shall attract more and more participation in offshore RMB trade and thus promote financial and trade cooperation between China and Britain or between China and the world, which will generate huge opportunities for success of multi-stakeholders.


So, in the future, Fosun will vigorously promote the development of our outstanding FinTech enterprises such as NAGA in Germany and BondIT in Israel and regard London as the most important development center; we will also boost the development of Germany’s H&A and Portugal’s BCP and Fidelidade in London, which are more eager to participate in the shaping of the future market than major players already in London; simultaneously, Fosun will also promote cooperation between China's enterprises and the global financial industry for faster and better development in London.


Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Yuyuan Garden to experience the Spring Festival atmosphere of China


In addition to the financial sector,

I am also excited about the development of other industries in Britain.


Frankly, due to the extremely-developed financial industry in the past decade, the whole society paid less attention to other industries, made insufficient investment in the upgrade of many other industries and suppressed the development of more creative industries.


But in fact, Britain has also established profound foundation in other various fields such as design, fashion, manufacturing, sports, leisure and entertainment. For example, Fosun's global headquarters in Shanghai designed by the renowned UK architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick features both classic appeal and modern beauty and has become one of the most eye-catching buildings in Shanghai. Also, Links of London, though with very simple product design, is quite distinctive in details.


Fosun also invested in Silver Cross, a 141-year-old baby carrier and toy enterprise which was named as a British royal brand more than 100 years ago. Silver Cross has typical British craftsmanship for excellence, with strong product power. In China, Fosun is helping Silver Cross to cooperate with Babytree, the world's largest vertical maternity & children community. With a large customer base of 200 million young parents, Babytree is familiar with their pain points and demands, and also willing to share its insights into Chinese customers with Silver Cross. Now the cooperation between the both parties is getting better and better.


Fosun recently invested in a Chinese-founded polo club called the “Chinese Unicorn Team” in Britain. Modern equestrian, already well-developed in the UK, is just emerging in China, while many Chinese love this game. I think sports, music, performing arts or the like will be good connection points for business cooperation between China and the UK.


Therefore, we have good reason to believe that these industries will be also promising in Britain in the future. In addition, Fosun is very optimistic about the British education industry which is looking for opportunities to combine with China’s growth momentum. I have visited several schools where I can feel strong love from teachers for students. Because of love, our education will be better, the methods more innovative, and the final effects more satisfactory.


Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Yuyuan Garden to experience the Spring Festival atmosphere of China


The last insight I want to share is: there are already 260,000 Chinese visitors to the UK each year, but I hope the future will witness more and more British visitors coming to China, just like two friends visiting each other quite often. Only with more frequent exchanges and communication can the British people have personal experience of China’s development. I believe the cooperation between the two countries will become smoother in the future.


Fosun and Thomas Cook have set up a joint venture in China which is incorporated in Shanghai. We will use it as a bridge to drive more people-to-people communication between the UK and China, including recommending iconic itineraries that will help more Chinese people have a deeper understanding of the UK and serving more British friends who are willing to know more about China.


Brexit is indeed a challenge. But I do appreciate the Britain’s new concept of globalization put forward by Prime Minister May that Brexit is just an opportunity to open a new chapter of Britain’s globalization. I also believe that in the process of this new globalization, Britain will further intensify the cooperation with China. We are more than willing to become one of the most important partners of Britain in this process.


Again let’s welcome Prime Minister May and all the entrepreneurs! Thank you!