China’s second most valuable company Tencent has signed a deal with the UK’s department of international trade to foster cultural and creative ties between the two countries.
The Shenzhen-based company runs China’s biggest social network, music and gaming systems, including the billion user-strong WeChat messaging app.
The company has said the focus of the agreement, known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), will focus on bringing film, video games and fashion to its large domestic audiences in China.
This will include digital, cultural and creative projects with the BBC, British Fashion Council, Visit Britain, the country’s tourist promotion board and technical publisher Springer Nature, known for titles such as Nature and Scientific American.
“The culture and technology industries in the United Kingdom are well recognised around the world, and we believe that there will be a lot of collaboration opportunities in the future,” said Tencent senior executive vice-president Seng Yee Lau at the launch event.
“Imagine a time, not long from now, when the empowering nature of digitisation is available to everyone in the world. What we are doing today is a first step towards making that image a reality.
“The next few years offer a golden opportunity for the UK to work with companies such as Tencent to drive innovation and shape the future of global trade. We look forward to turning this ambition into a reality.”
This is not the first time the UK has looked to China to strengthen ties with Brexit on the horizon.
In February Prime Minister Theresa May and a delegation of 50 business leaders travelled to China to sign around £9 billion worth of deals across the finance, agriculture and technology sectors.
Tencent Penguin Pictures also co-produced Blue Planet 2 with the BBC, which was the most-watched programme of 2017. The partnership includes a three-year partnership between the BBC and Tencent’s film-production arm.
The company also plans to work with Visit Britain to create a British version of its mobile QQ Speed racing game and will work with Oxford University to promote the development of the e-sports industry.
Tencent Youtu Lab and Qzone will team up with British fashion designers to integrate AI technology and Big Data analysis into fashion design to help designers better understand their younger target market.
It is thought that China will be one of the UK’s biggest sources of direct foreign investments by 2020 and China’s State Council has previously declared its intention to build up the country’s AI industry to nearly $150 billion in the next few years in an attempt to make the country an AI ‘innovation centre’ by 2030.