UK business leaders maintain strong confidence in China’s economy despite COVID-19 outbreak

A man walks past cherry trees at Wuhan University in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, March 3, 2020. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)

(Xinhua) — Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, people from business and economics circles in Britain are showing their strong confidence in the resilience of China’s economy.

“Companies have been driven to look at optimizing costs in their supply chain under the novel coronavirus, but I cannot say that companies will exit China due to this,” said Nick Jordan, chief executive+ officer from Trade Horizons.

The Chinese market is enormous with accelerating opening-up, all of which makes it difficult to be replaced, Jordan told Xinhua during an event hosted by the City of London and the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK recently.

According to Lord James Sassoon, chairman of the China-Britain Business Council, a member of the council has just signed a major contract in Shanghai, China recently, a move that shows the confidence in the Chinese economy.

A view of buildings in the City of London, London, Britain. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

Twenty-one foreign investment projects were signed last week in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, with a total contract value of over 1.7 billion U.S. dollars. The investment will go to a wide range of fields including supply chain management, smart manufacturing, medical supplies and equipment, and assets management, with projects funded by industry-leading players from Britain, the United States, Singapore, Japan and Switzerland, among others.

“I hope Britain and China will continue to strengthen business cooperation, and the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will rise to a new level after the epidemic,” said Lord Sassoon.

Alastair King, chairman of Naisbitt King, an asset management limited company, told Xinhua that he was confident in the Chinese market because he believed that “the fundamentals of the Chinese economy are solid.”

Echoing King, Joel Ruben, investment director from Hampton Group, said “in the short-term, there will definitely be a negative impact on the global supply chain, some of our customers whose supply chain is in China are slightly panicking, but the good news is that the number of confirmed cases in China is declining.”

In Ruben’s eyes, China has real competitive advantage in manufacturing. Even if companies try to diversify their supply sources, in the long run, China will maintain its position as a manufacturing powerhouse in the world.

“Any company who wants to be truly global, has to seek to do business in China,” said Reuben.

Many business people and scholars hold the view that the Chinese economy is going to recover and probably bounce back quite strongly once it got through the worst of the virus.

A worker works in a workshop of Zhetuo Benye (Ningbo) Tractor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in Fenghua District of Ningbo City, east China’s Zhejiang Province, March 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)

Richard Burn, Britain’s HM Trade Commissioner for China, expressed appreciation for the Chinese government’s measures in response to the epidemic, especially those taken by the Ministry of Commerce to assist foreign companies.

“These assistance policies apply to domestic and foreign enterprises alike, providing a strong guarantee for British companies to overcome difficulties,” he said.

Meanwhile, John Mclean OBE, non-executive chairman of Starcrest Education The Belt & Road Limited was impressed by China’s speed to build hospitals in a few days, as well as its remarkable achievements in building railways, airports, power stations in the past years.

To combat the virus, China built the makeshift Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital in 10 days in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in central China’s Hubei Province. Days later, another makeshift hospital, the Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital, was delivered and put into use in Wuhan in less than two weeks.

With a total capacity of 2,600 beds, the two hospitals have been playing a vital role in China’s fight against the virus.

“Actions speak louder than words…if you take a perspective on what China has done in the past, you could actually believe that China will do what it says it’s going to do,” said Mclean.

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