Bloomberg News

July 7, 2021

China’s Premier Li Keqiang called for deeper cooperation and communication with the U.K. to help boost relations between the two nations as political tensions simmer.

“Stable China-U.K. relations can help safeguard free and fair trade and promote global economic recovery” at a time of many uncertainties in international affairs, Li said during a virtual meeting with U.K. business leaders Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. China will continue to open up its economy to the world, and treat all market entities including foreign companies equally, he said.

China is willing to deepen communication with countries on fighting the virus and share its research results on treating variants of the virus, he said. He said he also hoped the U.K. will provide a fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies operating and investing there.

Representatives from more than 30 British companies and institutions attended the meeting, including pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc, asset manager Schroders Plc and car maker Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, according to the Xinhua report. The meeting was organized by the China-Britain Business Council and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

Tensions between the two countries have increased this year, with the U.K. criticizing Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In a February meeting with U.K. businesses, Li said China wants to move its relations onto a “firmer footing.” In March, China imposed retaliatory sanctions on senior British politicians.

U.K. businesses in China have recently called on Beijing to provide more clarity on its cybersecurity regulations as well as ease travel restrictions between the two countries to allow more business activity to take place.

— With assistance by John Liu, Yujing Liu, and Bihan Chen