China is becoming more confident in addressing international issues appropriate to its place in the world, according to former British trade and investment minister Stephen Green.
Green, now a member of the House of Lords, is chairman of Asia House, an organization set up to drive economic and political engagement between Europe and Asia.
“China has a leadership that thinks long term,” he said. “That’s an extraordinary thing given China’s complex long-term changes.”
Green, a former group chairman of HSBC Holdings, has been a regular visitor to China since the early 1980s and has witnessed the country’s economic transformation.
He said the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has addressed many issues, including the environment, economy, and continued financial reform and external engagement.
Green said he is pleased to see China already addressing environmental challenges, as well as taking a leadership role on this issue globally.
At the 2015 Paris climate change conference, China committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative is a reflection of China taking its rightful position on the world stage, according to Green. “This will modernize the whole of Eurasia, providing a boost to economic growth and world trade,” he said.
First proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the initiative seeks to strengthen trade and investment links between Asia and Europe by boosting infrastructure connectivity. It has attracted tremendous interest from the United Kingdom’s financial services community, with many professional services companies looking to advise on projects along the Belt and Road routes.
Green said Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, is a leader capable of taking China’s economy forward despite challenges such as the development of the rural economy, the aging population, and pollution.
“He is a strong leader, he has a clear vision for the way China needs to develop, and I believe he will take China forward on that journey successfully,” Green said.
China’s increased confidence abroad is a reflection of its strong leadership and growing economy, which puts it in a strong position to lead on issues common to emerging and mature economies alike, such as green finance, he said.
Last year, China put green finance on the G20 agenda for the first time, giving it unprecedented prominence.
“The way all economies transform themselves to become more environmentally sustainable creates shared learning between China and Europe, as it is a shared challenge,” Green said.
He said it will be important for international businesses and political leaders in the coming years to understand China, its economy, and its rich heritage and culture.
“Learning about business and investment opportunities only make sense if you understand the wider background of the history and culture of China,” he added.