Na­tion’s rise ‘an op­por­tu­nity’

Bri­tain vows to be China’s strong­est ad­vo­cate in the West

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI XIAOKUN in Bei­jing and ZHANG CHUN­YAN in Lon­don

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron hailed China’s trans­for­ma­tion as “one of the defin­ing facts of our life­time”.

Set­ting no limit on Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Bri­tain, he vowed to cham­pion the free trade area agree­ment be­tween China and the Euro­pean Union and de­clared that Bri­tain will act as China’s strong­est ad­vo­cate in the West.

“China’s trans­for­ma­tion is one of the defin­ing facts of our life­time. ... I see China’s rise as an op­por­tu­nity, not just for the peo­ple of this coun­try but for Bri­tain and the world,” Cameron said at a news con­fer­ence with Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang af­ter talks at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and top leg­is­la­tor Zhang De­jiang also met with Cameron on Mon­day.

Li held a wel­com­ing ban­quet in Cameron’s honor at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple at noon, while Xi hosted a re­cep­tion din­ner at the Diaoyu­tai State Guest House.

Li and Cameron wit­nessed the sign­ing of 10 agree­ments on ar­eas from space ex­plo­ration co­op­er­a­tion to en­hanc­ing mu­tual in­vest­ment.

Li told re­porters they agreed to push com­pa­nies for break­throughs in high-speed rail­way and nu­clear power co­op­er­a­tion.

Bri­tain supports China hav­ing shares and even hold­ing con­trol­ling in­ter­ests in Bri­tish nu­clear power projects, Li said.

In Oc­to­ber, Bri­tain signed a $ 26- bil­lion deal in­volv­ing China Gen­eral Nu­clear Power Group and China Na­tional Nu­clear Cor­po­ra­tion to build Bri­tain’s fi rst nu­clear plant in a gen­er­a­tion, along with French en­ergy gi­ant EDF.

They also dis­cussed con­duct­ing off­shore yuan busi­ness in Lon­don and Chi­nese banks open­ing branches in Bri­tain.

Lon­don is try­ing to be­come the main off­shore hub for trad­ing in China’s cur­rency and bonds. Ac­cord­ing to the So­ci­ety for World­wide In­ter­bank Fi­nan­cial Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, Lon­don ac­counts for 28 per­cent of off­shore yuan set­tle­ment trans­ac­tions.

Li added that Bri­tain agreed to in­crease hightech ex­ports to China, and the two na­tions will es­tab­lish an in­no­va­tion and re­search fund of 200 mil­lion pounds ($322 mil­lion).

The UK will also sim­plify visa pro­ce­dures for Chi­nese tourists and busi­ness trav­el­ers.

Cameron said Bri­tain would open a con­sulate in the cen­tral Chi­nese city of Wuhan, the coun­try’s fifth on the Chi­nese main­land.

China-UK ties cooled af­ter Cameron’s meet­ing in May 2012 with the Dalai Lama. In May this year, Cameron said in Par­lia­ment that he had “no plans” to meet with the Dalai Lama.

Li said Cameron con­firmed with him on Mon­day that Bri­tain re­spects China’s ter­ri­to­rial and sov­er­eign in­tegrity and core in­ter­ests.

Writ­ing in the Chi­nese weekly news mag­a­zine Caixin on Mon­day, Cameron said: “Put sim­ply, there is no coun­try in the Western world more open to Chi­nese in­vest­ment, more able to meet the de­mands of Chi­nese con­sumers, or more will­ing to make the case for eco­nomic open­ness in the G8, the G20 and the Euro­pean Union.

“And there is no coun­try more ready to forge a di­a­logue of mu­tual re­spect and un­der­stand­ing that can ad­dress is­sues of con­cern and ad­vance our shared in­ter­ests in the world,” he said.

Dun­can Free­man, a se­nior re­search fel­low at the Brus­sels In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary China Stud­ies, said Cameron is at­tempt­ing to de­velop both po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­la­tion­ships with China. How­ever, he noted any deal on free trade be­tween the EU and China will be a long-term goal.

Rana Mitter, a pro­fes­sor of mod­ern Chi­nese his­tory and pol­i­tics at Ox­ford Univer­sity, said, “Bri­tish politi­cians on all sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum are re­al­iz­ing the im­por­tance of China’s mar­kets.”

He said the UK is China’s sec­ond-most im­por­tant Euro­pean trad­ing part­ner, af­ter Ger­many, but the UK has a good op­por­tu­nity to catch up.

“In the next phase of China’s de­vel­op­ment, which will re­quire fi­nan­cial ser­vice re­form and in­vest­ment in hu­man cap­i­tal, Bri­tain has ma­jor ad­van­tages.”

Cameron ar­rived on Mon­day morn­ing with the largest Bri­tish trade del­e­ga­tion, com­posed of more than 100 peo­ple.

Ding Chun, di­rec­tor of the Center for Euro­pean Stud­ies of Fu­dan Univer­sity, said the achieve­ments in China-UK co­op­er­a­tion re­flect a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the new Chi­nese lead­er­ship.

“They made it clear that China’s co­op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries should fo­cus on com­ple­men­tary fields,” Ding said.

Ding said that the sup­port for Chi­nese en­ter­prises hold­ing shares of UK nu­clear en­ergy firms “marks a break­through for China in the ‘go global’ process”.

Tian Dewen, a Euro­pean stud­ies re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said Lon­don’s po­si­tion as an im­por­tant global fi­nan­cial center is be­ing chal­lenged by Frank­furt, Ger­many, the fi­nan­cial center of the eu­ro­zone. “As a re­sult, the UK hopes the es­tab­lish­ment of a ren­minbi clear­ing bank in Lon­don can help main­tain its ex­ist­ing sta­tus,” Tian said.

WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang and Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron chat at a sign­ing cer­e­mony in the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing on Mon­day. They agreed to push com­pa­nies for break­throughs in high-speed rail­way and nu­clear power co­op­er­a­tion.

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