HONG KONG, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Visiting British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Browne, said here Tuesday Asia would be major priorities of the new British government, as Asia was undergoing the greatest changes in the world.
"The area of the greatest changes in the world where progress is accelerating faster is here in Asia. And we are alert to that change. We want to play a part in it," he told reporters.
Asia, he said, would be the focus of the British government in terms of government politics, business, culture and sports, and all different aspects of life in Britain would be orientated to build relations with Asia which has perhaps not been the case in the past.
The diplomat, who was on a one-day visit to Hong Kong, said Britain would be maintaining a high intensity of relations with China at every levels and British Foreign Secretary William Hague had just finished his first visit to China since taking office.
"China is an enormous opportunity, the most populous country in the world with very strong economic growth. ... It is set to become the second largest economy in the world any day now. (It is) so important to us," said Browne, who was appointed Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office on May 14.
He said the new British government valued highly of open market and free trade. "We don't want to see a reaction to some of the global financial turbulence being protectionism. We regard protectionism as a barrier to greater prosperity and wealth creation."
Britain's competitiveness would come from the country's openness to business, Browne said, adding the new government was taking necessary measures to reduce unsustainable levels of public debt and rebalance the British economy.