Lord Mayor Charles Bowman speech at the CCCUK China-UK Economic and Trade Cooperation event

Chairman, Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the City of London Corporation, may I welcome you all to the Old Library here at our historic Guildhall.

And may I thank the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK for providing this platform to bring us all together.

As the Lord Mayor of the City of London, I am a principal ambassador and key spokesperson for the UK’s financial and professional services sector.

During my year in office, nearly one-third of my time is spent on international visits – securing old partnerships and forming new ones.

In March I will be heading to China, which I had the great pleasure of visiting twice in my previous role as Sheriff.

For this visit, I will be taking with me a senior business delegation.

We will be discussing London’s role in the exciting Belt and Road Initiative, building on the involvement of the City of London Corporation in the Belt and Road Summit in Beijing last May – which I had the privilege of attending.

We will also be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the City of London Corporation’s presence in China, with offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

And we will be making plans for our Next Decade in Asia.

Here in London we are proud to have a team dedicated to supporting Chinese investors and businesses in the UK.

Last Spring we helped the Shanghai Clearing House to open its London office.

Last Autumn we welcomed the launch of Bank of China’s private banking service in London.

And we will soon celebrate the branch opening of Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China.

As President Xi put it, we are living in the “Golden Era” of China–UK relations.

And as Liu Xiaoming said to this group last year, Chinese businesses in the UK are the ‘stabilisers’ and ‘boosters’ of our great relationship.

I could not agree more.

Today’s event focusses on two topics: Brexit and the Belt and Road Initiative.

On Brexit, the City of London has asked the government for a deal that focuses on three Ts: Transition, Trade, and Talent.

We want a deal that is good for the UK and Europe and elsewhere.

Whatever the deal looks like, let me assure you that London will retain its strengths as the international centre for finance. It will remain the gateway for Chinese companies to expand into global markets.

After all, London is the largest Renminbi payments centre outside of China, and the largest Renminbi foreign exchange centre worldwide.

London has the rule of law, history, culture, diversity, education, access to talent, strong regulation, market depth, infrastructure, innovation, time zone, language.

These fundamentals are difficult to replicate elsewhere.

If they could, they would. But they haven’t.

London is the natural Western end to the Belt and Road.

The UK’s commitment to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative was re-affirmed just a few weeks ago at the 9th UK–China Economic and Financial Dialogue.

Our banks, accounting and law firms, and our consultants and project managers have decades of global experience.

They have structured, financed and advised complex infrastructure projects around the world.

In London we have the knowledge – as well as highly liquid debt and equity capital markets, with a large global investor base.

This makes us an important partner for China – indeed, the Economic Dialogue specifically welcomed the involvement of the City of London.

Let me give three brief examples of what the City can offer.

First, risk management.

An infrastructure project of this scale and complexity faces a great deal of risk, throughout the value chain.

In London, we have experts in risk management, who can ensure the smooth delivery of the Initiative.

And, during the Dialogues, the UK Government promised £25 billion to support new business along the Belt and Road in Asia.

Second, legal services.

The Initiative will create a complex legal situation, as China makes huge investments in countries with diverse legal frameworks.

UK Common Law will provide a useful model for how to manage this situation.

Many Belt and Road countries have already adopted UK Common Law, and many more accept its power as fair, robust and time-tested.

Third, green finance.

The Belt and Road projects must be sustainable, to protect the environment for the future. We should all be planning for a completely green Belt and Road.

The City of London Corporation, through our Green Finance Initiative, already has strong ties to China’s Green Finance Committee.

Our joint taskforce last September published the report “Greening the Belt and Road”, and with the support of both governments, we have now established the “Green Belt and Road Investor Alliance”, dedicated to building President Xi’s “project of the century”.

So, lots of opportunities to leverage London’s historical expertise for our mutual benefit.

That’s why promoting London’s role in the Belt and Road Initiative will be a core part of my visit in March.

I’m looking forward to it.

We have an exciting decade ahead for UK–China engagements. And the City of London will be at the forefront.

Watch this space on the 25th for an announcement from us, which will present many opportunities for you to shape our work in China and across Asia.

I know that many of you are also looking forward to the upcoming Spring Festival, and I wish you all the very best for the Year of the Dog.

Gou Nian Da Ji.

I hope that today’s Forum is productive, and I look forward to seeing many of you again in March – if not sooner.

Xie xie.


Notes to editors

  1. About the City of London Corporation:
  • The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles:
  • We support London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, makes grants of around £20 million annually to tackle disadvantage across London.
  • We also help look after key London heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, the Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important commons in London.
  • We also support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events and research-driven policies, all reflecting a long-term approach.

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  1. About the Lord Mayor of the City of London:
  • The Lord Mayor is head of the Square Mile’s City of London authority for one year and the position is unpaid and apolitical. The Lord Mayor spends some 100 days abroad and addresses some 10,000 people face-to-face each month (making around 800 speeches a year).
  • The Lord Mayor represents City businesses and helps the City Corporation advise the Government of the day on what is needed to help the financial services sector to function well. The Lord Mayor frequently travels to represent the City and travels overseas with the status of a Cabinet Minister.
  • The Lord Mayor meets several international Heads of Government and Business each month to discuss financial services, often in conjunction with senior City business representatives. The Lord Mayor lives in the Mansion House for the Mayoral year.