Former PM backs $900bn China deal

China’s $900bn initiative to stimulate economic growth is the ‘biggest story in town’ for the world economy, Gordon Brown has told a University event.

The former Prime Minister was one of several international scholars and business leaders taking part in the landmark conference at the McEwan Hall.

The event, organised by the University’s Confucius Institute, assessed the potential impact of China’s most significant investment since the Great Wall. 

Fresh approach

Mr Brown told delegates that the world needs reformed global institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to encompass the rise of China.

Returning to his former University, Mr Brown said that anti-globalisation populism would grow unless Asia, Europe and America could devise ‘rules of the road’ for living together.

The event sought to shed light on China’s so-called Belt and Road Initiative and the opportunities it offers Scotland.

Trade boost

The $900bn pledge by China to boost trade and stimulate economic growth is the world’s largest commercial contract.

The arrival of the first freight train from Zhejiang into London earlier this year signified that the initiative has now reached the UK.

Keynote speech

The geopolitical and cultural implications of the investment were the focus of Mr Brown’s keynote speech.

He explored the evolving nature of China’s political and trading relationships with the West, especially Europe and the UK post-Brexit.

Vast opportunities

Further sessions will help to outline potential benefits for Scottish companies, discuss the role of data-driven innovation and explore emerging technologies in sustainable energy.

Speakers include the Chief Executive of IBM China Chen Liming and the Minister Counsellor of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy Jin Xu.

The University's Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, led the opening discussion. Also taking part were Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Frank Ross and Professor Kang Feiyu, Dean of Tsinghua University and Chair of the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities.


The University of Edinburgh's Low Carbon College, near Shanghai, is working in partnership with UK and Chinese companies, and government, to find ways to reduce China's carbon footprint and develop innovative technologies that can be used around the world. This short film explains how.

Related links

Conference details

Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh

World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities

China-Britain Business Council

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation