Chinese premier’s UK visit prompts £2bn in healthcare deals

The £40 billion-worth of trade deals signed between Britain and China during President Xi Jinping’s state visit includes around £2 billion in healthcare trade and investment, according to the UK government.

While the visit has been somewhat overshadowed by more controversial deals, including the investment by China in a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, it has also yielded a series of alliances between Chinese and UK companies, universities and health organisations.

A statement released by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) notes that China is on course to become the world’s largest healthcare market and that the collaborations ‘will provide benefits that go beyond the populations of China and the UK, and will have a positive effect on global health’.

A full list of the deals can be viewed here, and the package should boost UK exports in research, hospital construction, training, diagnostics and drug discovery, according to UKTI. The government said earlier this week that President Xi’s visit would also create up to 3,900 jobs in the UK.

Among the highlights is a collaboration between Warwick University and Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Centre on training and research to co-develop cancer treatments, and an alliance between United Imaging and Cerno that will bring cutting-edge oncology imaging technology to the UK.

Almost £1 billion of the total comes from two separate agreements that will see UK companies International Hospital Group (IHG) and Sinophi Healthcare build several hospitals in China. Meanwhile, UK firm Phynova will receive £5 million investment from XiangXue Pharmaceutical to research traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) with a view to developing products for world markets.

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman said these collaborations “show how Chinese and UK organisations recognise each other’s potential.

“UK leadership in life science is helping to support both UK economic growth and the sustainable development of emerging economies,” he added. “This is a win-win for the NHS, UK and China.”

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) chief executive Sir Andrew Witty is among the business leaders joining a new group set up by the China-British Business Council (CBBC) to promote bi-lateral trade between the two countries.

Sir Andrew’s appointment is notable considering the corruption scandal that led to GSK paying a $500 million fine to the Chinese government last year, and he is the only representative from the pharma industry on the panel.

CBBC Chairman Lord Sassoon said the new advisory council, which also includes senior figures from Rio Tinto, Jaguar Land Rover, Diageo, BT and Royal Mail Group, among others, “demonstrates the commitment of top business leaders to supporting the UK’s collective effort to maximise opportunities with China.”

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