Lord Mayor Alan Yarrow speech at the China State Banquet, Guildhall, City of London, Wednesday 21st October 2015
Mr President. Your Royal Highnesses. Your Excellencies. My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner. Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome to the City of London, and welcome to the Guildhall. It’s my honour to return the wonderful hospitality I received in China last month.
As did the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Energy Minister, Business Minister, Special Envoy to China – who’s also a former Lord Mayor! – and my own delegation of Business Leaders!
Thank you, on behalf of us all!
Great to hit our countries’ bilateral trade target of $100 billion by the end of this year! And great to work together towards new targets on the horizon – economic, cultural and diplomatic.
So tonight’s banquet is particularly special. Radiant reds, and glittering golds, illuminate a precious partnership between the United Kingdom and China.
As we celebrate our joint achievements – and look forward to a Golden Era of growth and prosperity – I am delighted to host you, Mr President, and present the Address read out by Mr Recorder.
While many Nations are awed by this City’s historic role in shaping the present, we know that you, Mr President, represent a far older civilisation. Whose innovation informed so much of what the world now takes for granted.
In 1411, the first stones were laid, for this Guildhall. In 1411, far to the East, the Ming Dynasty renovated China’s Grand Canal, which runs 2,000 kilometres from North to South. I repeat, renovated – the original canal was built centuries earlier! And as the longest canal in the world – it remains one of the greatest projects of all time.
Mr President, China continues to uphold its noble legacy of enterprise and energy. Not least, with its new canal: the North-South Water Diversion.
Meeting demand for the fastest growing economy, with 1 billion people in Chinese cities by 2030.
100 of those cities have been connected, in just 10 years, by China’s world-leading High Speed Rail: the Gaotie. Longer than all the rail services in Europe, and it runs on time!
Mr President – London’s commuters are very impressed!
We are currently experiencing the world’s biggest expansion of an underground system: Crossrail. Colossal tunnels are being bored beneath our medieval street pattern, but it is business as usual. We know how to keep Cities going.
Together, our countries can support global trends of rapid urbanization and resulting needs. And, Mr President, your ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy will help us do this.
The UK is delighted to be the first European economy to support China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Opening doors to British expertise in delivering the largest, most complex, global projects.
And we are delighted to offer Chinese investors long-term, stable returns, in this country. From Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, to SinoFortone Group’s investment in the new, exciting, London Paramount Entertainment Resort.
Two millennia after merchants journeyed thousands of miles, technology may have replaced textiles, but it has always been the flow of financial and human capital which changes the future of continents.
Today – as global challenges multiply and mutate, intensified by the digital age and set against the backdrop of climate change – the UK and China have shared responsibilities to our global community. To combat insecurity and instability. To build peace and prosperity.
FS & RMB
And from the gateway of Europe to the powerhouse of Asia, whether in London or Shanghai – we need to ensure our financial centres and services are at the cutting edge of changing needs. For business, markets and investors, and for all our people.
In pursuit of this goal, we founded ‘The City of London RMB initiative’ – establishing London as the Western hub for offshore RMB trading. Working with China’s five major banks – all here in this squaremile – and with our international banks active in China. Advising Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Bank of England and the People’s Bank of China.
We’ve achieved many exciting firsts and are poised for another – China’s issuance of sovereign RMB denominated debt through London’s markets.
Premier Li Keqiang has said: “Achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth is still a daunting challenge facing all of us”.
He is right. And episodes of volatility are expected when opening up new markets. But with challenge comes opportunity. The City of London can help build resilience into China’s capital markets. By helping to deepen the institutional investor base. Grow the insurance and pensions market. Improve transparency and predictability for international business.
Our countries’ Economic Financial Dialogue is a forum for discussion – for all this and more. From a potential stock-connect between the London and Shanghai Stock Exchanges, to working together on joint issuance of a Green Bond. And during my visit to Guangzhou and Hong Kong last month, we shared UK expertise in Carbon Trading and Carbon Disclosure.
Mr President, there are many opportunities for cooperation – meeting shared challenges and realizing shared interests. And what could be more important than education?
We need more skilled workers in global finance, science and technology. The sectors which will meet our present and future needs.
So may I congratulate China! On winning its first Nobel Prize for Science!
Tu Youyou’s discovery of a drug to combat malaria – after years of research into traditional Chinese medicine – will save millions of lives. Fantastic work!
Mr President – the UK is proud to be China’s partner in the global knowledge economy. We are proud that Chinese academics co-publish more science research with British academics, than any other European nation.
And I hope you enjoyed your visit, earlier today, to one of our premier scientific institutions: Imperial College. As you know, there is urgent need for global cooperation in health – particularly Anti Microbial Resistance. Our countries’ creation of an AMR Research Innovation Fund, and China’s imminent presidency of the G20, will enable us to prioritize response to this global threat.
Mr President – I hope you also enjoy your visit to the National Graphene Institute in Manchester.
Best thing to come out of Manchester since Manchester City Football Club!
Manchester – twinned with Wuhan – is the beating heart of Britain’s Northern Powerhouse. No wonder – it is the second biggest Chinese city in the UK!
Meanwhile, a quarter of a million Chinese live and work, right here in London! A global City, which believes in open and transparent markets. Markets which function with two driving forces – the right framework in place and the right people behind them.
As you have said, Mr President; “Integration makes progress possible”. It has certainly made progress possible in this City. Diversity is our greatest strength. From first-class financial services, to excellence in the Arts.
And this year, the first ever UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, we celebrate the glorious enrichment of our creative industries.
The Principal of our Guildhall school of Music and Drama is in China right now, signing a new partnership with the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. Offering two-years’ study in London for a Guildhall School Diploma – before scholars complete their degree in China.
Mr President – there are many golden threads which connect our communities and commerce. And with your economic and diplomatic vision for collaboration, the Western and Eastern partners of the Silk Route can continue to weave a precious tapestry of talent. Making possible the Golden Era of our Nations, and the sustainable growth and development of all our global partners.
Let us gild that shared resolve. Please rise for the National Anthem of China, after which I shall propose the toast to the President.