May 9, 2018updated 07 Aug 2020 1:15pm

The UK is shoring up its post-Brexit ties with China through tech giant Tencent

By Robert Scammell

Chinese tech giant Tencent has reached a deal with the UK that will see collaborations in film, games, fashion, and tourism.

The memorandum of understanding was signed between the Shenzhen-based company and the UK’s Department of International Trade this morning in London. It is aimed at deepening ties between China and the UK as Britain prepares to leave the European Union in a little under a year’s time.

The deal comes after UK Prime Minister Theresa May led a delegation of around 50 business leaders from the UK to China in February — signing some £9 billion worth of deals across the finance, agriculture, and technology sectors.

Tencent, best known for its social media service WeChat, will work with the British Tourist Authority, the BBC, the British Fashion Council and Springer Nature on so-called culture creative initiatives.

UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said:

The next few years will offer a golden opportunity for the UK to work with partners such as Tencent to drive innovation and shape the future of global trade.

The International Monetary Fund has predicted that 90% of global growth over the next ten to 15 years will occur outside the European Union and Fox claimed that “much of this will be driven by Asian economies”.

British exports to China are up 60% since 2010 and the country is expected to be one of the UK’s biggest sources of direct foreign investments by 2020.

Tencent’s interest in the UK has also be spurred on by US President Donald Trump’s mistrust of China and internationally expanding Chinese companies.

Meanwhile, creative industries contributed £92 billion to the UK economy in 2016, according to government figures, an increase of 8% from 2015.

Tencent’s chairman of advertising Lau Seng Yee signed the deal in London and said it will have a “profound” and “rewarding” effect on people in both China and the UK.

Lau said:

China is upgrading from a high-speed growth model to a high-quality growth momentum today.

The joint venture will focus on “promoting technology for the greater good, promoting culture for a better understanding and cultivating talents for a prosperous, common future”.

Tencent Penguin Pictures will sign a three-year partnership with the BBC that will see the company involved in co-production, content development, business licensing, and marketing and distribution of documentaries.

The deal follows the joint production of the 2017 Planet Earth II series, which broke global records as the most viewed documentary ever made.

As part of the drive to cultivate talent, Tencent will launch a young scientist award in partnership with Nature Research, a division of academic publisher Springer Nature.

It’s hoped the award will encourage young scientists around the world to conduct research that addresses key challenges faced by humanity.

A strategic partnership with the British Fashion Council will see Tencent Youtu Lab and Qzone team up with British fashion designers in a pilot project to integrate AI technology and big data analysis into fashion design.

Tencent has already teamed up with the UK’s Babylon Health to focus on artificial intelligence in healthcare and medicine.

Tencent — the second most valuable company in China — has struggled recently despite its dominance of the Asian market with its social network WeChat, which has more than a billion active Chinese users.

In March, it lost more than $26 billion from its market cap after issuing a margin warning.

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