After over a century, China offers new stage for British innovations at CIIE

SHANGHAI, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — Introducing a technology using light to enable data communication and displaying holograms of Chinese and British flags fluttering on the wall, the U.K. pavilion at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) looks futuristic.

A total of 172 countries, regions and international organizations are currently attending the CIIE that opened Monday in Shanghai. With the theme “Innovation is Great,” the British pavilion is full of cutting-edge technologies that interested Chinese visitors.

Britain held the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, which featured precious jewelry, rare machines and smart gadgets, following the success of industrial revolution in the country.

“Nearly 200 years later, the U.K. still has world-leading innovation,” said Tony Clemson, British deputy consul-general in Shanghai, adding that his country is also seeking cooperation with more innovators in China.

The data transmission technology using light, called LiFi, creates more secure, energy efficient and faster connections with 1,000 times more bandwidth than conventional WiFi, according to Clemson.

At the expo’s British pavilion, the augumented reality technology might be more eye-catching than diamonds or machines. One of the highlights is a robot named “Olly”, which was designed by a Britain-based startup. Considered unique for having a personality and emotions, it can serve as one’s assistant at home and respond to different demands.

“The pavilion looks fantastic — it’s bright and open. I think this is a good metaphor for the U.K. and shows all the innovative things the U.K. has,” said Lise Bertelsen, public affairs executive director of the China-Britain Business Council.

The U.K. is a guest country of honor at this year’s CIIE. Apart from big British multinational companies like HSBC and Standard Chartered, many others are also presenting products in high-end manufacturing, retail, healthcare and education.

“The CIIE gives the exhibitors tremendous opportunities to show themselves to a very big audience, and it will give them a huge benefit just to be seen and to be part of this,” said Bertelsen.

Clemson said U.K.-China trade grew to a record of nearly 68 billion pounds (88.7 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017. China’s imports from the U.K. rose by 19.4 percent year on year in 2017, according to China’s official data.

“Obviously it’s a huge opportunity for all of us as China opens up more,” he said, adding that the U.K. would like to be a part of China’s journey to enlarge its imports.

During the week-long expo, more than 3,600 companies from around the world will seek common development with over 400,000 purchasers from China and overseas.

“I myself greatly appreciate the innovation spirit and capability of the U.K.,” said Li Enshen, a visitor who is in charge of international cooperation at the Orient Sundar Group, a Chinese construction company.

Apart from visiting the pavilion, he also decided to sign a purchasing contract with representatives from the U.K. there. “The CIIE has brought various products from across the globe to our doorway,” he added.

With developing government-to-government relations, business relations and fast increasing people-to-people links, Clemson said he is optimistic about the future between the two sides. “I’m really excited about seeing these increase even further,” he said.

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