UK firms see 'golden era' in China as policies boosting finance, healthcare cooperation
UK companies operating in China are witnessing "a golden era," with their businesses bolstered by policy support such as the opening-up of financial markets and the government agenda of Healthy China 2030, UK business representatives said.
"We're delighted to announce that our wholly foreign-owned enterprise secured registration as a private securities investment fund manager in China last month," Sir Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life, an investment company headquartered in Edinburgh, the UK, told the Global Times on Tuesday, saying the move marked "a significant milestone" in their growth strategy in China.
As China has opened up its financial market, a "golden era" for UK firms to beef up their presence in China has arrived, according to Grimstone.
Such opening-up, "allied with other further reforms, provide exciting growth opportunities [for UK investors] in life insurance, pensions and asset management," Grimstone noted. And financiers in both countries "see huge benefits from mutual cooperation."
In the healthcare sector, the Healthy China 2030 plan sees health as a prerequisite for the development of Chinese society, as well as recognizing the need to expand access to innovative medicine and improve the quality of healthcare. It also provides a strong foundation for further China-UK cooperation, said a spokesperson for UK-based drug maker AstraZeneca.
For example, while achieving substantial growth in the Chinese market, UK firms can also share the best practices on addressing the prevalence of counterfeit and substandard products, which is a significant threat to public health in China.
Last year, amid reform efforts in the domestic medical market, five new medicines developed by AstraZeneca, targeting diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, were added to the national reimbursement drug list, the AstraZeneca spokesperson told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In 2017, the firm exported medicine worth 9 million to China, making it one of the biggest exporters to China from the UK, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Wednesday. China has now become AstraZeneca's second-largest market globally.
UK Prime Minster Theresa May's visit to China is "an excellent opportunity" for the two countries to develop stronger and more comprehensive bilateral cooperation on biopharmaceutical products, the spokesperson noted.
And during May's visit, "we signed two big deals," he said, without disclosing further details.
The two countries can also expand their cooperation in sectors such as new materials and IT, a Chinese expert said.
Given the UK's strength in finance and China's fast growth in the technology sector, the two sides can jointly research and develop technological products to control financial risks, said Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Besides, the UK has advantages in material science, which can be applied in new-energy vehicles, a sector that China has strongly supported in recent years in order to realize green development, Bai told the Global Times on Thursday.
On Thursday, domestic film and TV production company DeZerlin and UK-based Zycon Media announced that they had signed a co-production agreement worth 1 billion yuan (8.87 million), according to a statement DeZerlin sent to the Global Times on Thursday.
Under the deal, the two companies will co-produce 10 animated feature films and 10 animated television series over the next eight years, the statement said.
Grimstone from Standard Life said he hoped to see further positive developments in the future in China's private pension market.
"We are pleased to see that the central government and regulators are implementing more measures to address the challenges posed by the rapidly aging population for the public pension system, and we hope to progress our pension license application to the next stage with their continued support," he noted.
The spokesperson for AstraZeneca said he hoped that obstacles to allowing imports of new medicines could be addressed in the future, so that the benefits of health innovation can reach Chinese patients more quickly.
By improving the business environment, infrastructure facilities and legal system, China will attract more UK firms, Bai said, adding that there is vast cooperative space to explore.