UK creates tech hub for more ‘ethical’ business with China

London: The UK government has published guidance it says will help UK firms negotiate the “ethical, legal and commercial” questions they may encounter in China, or when working with Chinese businesses, and safeguard national security concerns.

The guidance released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Friday sets out key issues digital and tech small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should consider as they weigh the benefits and risks of commercial ventures, as well as signposting specialist sources of advice.

The DCMS notes that China is the UK’s third-largest export market and the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing major economy. But warns that accessing the market should be done safely and in a way that reflects the UK’s values and takes account of national security concerns.

“The latest statistics show UK-China bilateral trade has exceeded the 76 billion pound mark for the first time and our digital tech sector is the fifth biggest exporter of services in the world. But we recognise the ethical, legal and commercial questions businesses face when they work in China or with Chinese businesses, said UK Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage.

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“The UK is determined to support our businesses to engage with China in a way that reflects the UK’s values and takes account of national security concerns,” she said.

A new online hub, which the DCMS said has been developed in response to demand from the tech sector, will support “safe and appropriate” UK-China collaboration in digital and tech. The guidance will help SMEs to make a success of business ventures linked to China, to choose the right partners and to manage risk by taking appropriate steps.

“We welcome the government’s launch of the bespoke guidance to SMEs and we look forward to working together to help digital and tech SMEs to grow safely and successfully in China, said Julian David, CEO of techUK.

At techUK, we recognise the massive opportunity that China presents for the UK’s digital and tech businesses as well as challenges that firms face when navigating each other’s unique marketplaces. To be successful and protect their operations, digital and tech businesses need to know the challenges and take the right steps to navigate them, he said.

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The DCMS said that the new hub complements measures announced earlier in the year to support UK tech companies to seize trade and investment opportunities overseas.

These included a new Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific, which will support UK SMEs to break into the Asian market, and a new Tech Exporting Academy to provide expert advice to UK scaleups on subject areas essential to expansion, including regulation, intellectual property, and compliance.

In June, the UK government had stipulated that Chinese giant Huawei will be completely removed from the UK’s 5G networks by the end of 2027 in the wake of US sanctions on the company over data privacy concerns. Restrictions on Huawei operating in the sensitive and critical parts of the UK network have also been in place.

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