Interview: City of London a committed partner of China on BRI, says policymaker

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-16 16:09:47|Editor: zh
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by Han Liang

BEIJING, June 16 (Xinhua) -- The City of London is a committed partner of China to support sustainable financing and successful delivery of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a top policymaker has said recently.

As a leading global financial center with the breadth and depth of a financial ecosystem, London could contribute a lot when it comes to "unlocking potential and building capacity for the BRI," Catherine McGuinness, City of London policy chair told Xinhua in an exclusive interview here in Beijing.

"Infrastructure finance is something which the city has an expertise in and is dealing all the time, so when we come to the big vision of infrastructure project across the world, as a partner working alongside China, I feel London has a great deal to offer," McGuinness said.

During her stay in Beijing, McGuinness unveiled a report on London's "footprints" along the Belt and Road, illustrating how firms from the British financial and professional service sector including Standard Chartered, HSBC, Linklaters are involved in the initiative.

As the natural Western end of the BRI, with its mature capital market, qualified professionals, London could support the initiative as a hub for crowding in capital, giving advice on project engineering, providing financing solutions, offering expertise in structuring complex transactions and managing risk, among others, she said.

Meanwhile, collaborations between Britain and China on BRI could extend beyond borders into third countries. The Islamic Finance, a thriving service in London, could contribute as many Islamic countries along the Belt and Road will need it for project financing, she said.

Together, London and its Chinese partners are exploring new technologies, tools and initiatives to power the green BRI and sustainable development, with green finance and fintech innovation as top examples, she said.

China's gradual reforms and opening up over the past four decades have already made tremendous achievements, and the latest developments gave clear signals that China is committed to further open up and embrace the world, she said.

Looking forward, she said new chances emerge with China's latest steps to further opening up its economy to foreign investment.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission announced in late April that the country will allow foreign-funded banks to conduct business such as the underwriting of government bonds, and will lift foreign ownership limits on domestic banks and financial asset management firms.

Britain was "very excited" to see such developments and welcome the Shanghai-London stock connect, which could be in operation by the end of the year, McGuinness said, hailing it as an innovative way to bring two-way investment opportunities. The successful operation of it will make "a good model for others to follow."

"It is a positive moment for UK-China relations and we've seen some companies already taking advantages of these new rules," she said. JP Morgan, for instance, became the latest foreign firm to apply to set up a majority ownership securities firm in China.

To see the larger picture, the world has entered "a challenging time," with some countries moving away from free trade and globalization, she noted. The Brexit did bring in a short-term period of turbulence to her country, yet it gave it "new energy and commitment" to focus on China.

The British financial sector is enthusiastic to foster closer links between the City of London and China, and to ensure the sustainability of the BRI, she said.

The golden era in Britain-China relations will shine even brighter in the future, she concluded.