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Cameron's China trip oversteps significance of economic, trade sector

11-11-2010 14:43 BJT

British Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by four cabinet ministers and about 50 senior business leaders, arrived in Beijing Tuesday, Nov. 9, on his first official visit to China since he took office in May. He was accompanied by his finance, economy, education and the secretary of state for energy and climate change. The two sides are now conferring on a wide range of topics including trade, finance, energy and education.

The British government has its own interest consideration in its endeavor to step up its economic and trade relations with China. In the face of a grave, stern threat to the economic recession, some European nations have expressed the aspiration to boost economy through the expansion of their exports to China, and Britain is no exception as a matter of course.

The experience of some European countries in developing Sino-European ties since early this year has given an eloquent proof that the effect of economic and trade cooperation will go far beyond the significance of the economic and trade sector. So, the importance of Prime Minister Cameron's ongoing trip will also go beyond that of any previous British trade missions, just as the British" Daily Telegraph" website noted in a special report on November 7.

A lot of positive changes have happened in the Sino-British relations over recent years. In 2008, then British foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a public statement that his government had regarded Tibet as part of China. This was the first time over a century that the British government recognized China's sovereignty over Tibet. Last year, the British Foreign Office released a British strategy document detailing an approach for bilateral relations with China, and that is the British government's document: "Building Relations with China 'Major Priority'".

This government document is the first of its kind to lay down an approach for Britain's relations with China. This is also the first time that the British public relations document shows equity and strategic importance as well as the special emphasis placed on the importance of public relations with China, which had been unprecedented and rare among other European Union members. Prime Minister Cameron also vowed to "work closely" with China after assuming premiership in May this year.

A veteran, dominant Western power has begun adopting a more realistic and ready approach with a long-term vision to spur bilateral cooperation with China on a more equal footing; this is very substantial progress and it suggests a new chapter in the history of Sino-Western exchanges.

Britain is one of the most influential Western powers in China's modern history. In more than 30 years of reform and opening up, Sino-UK ties has always been one of China's most important bilateral relationships. It is owed precisely to this historic and realistic relationship that Britain's understanding of China may be deeper and much more incisive than other European nations. Britons are also more able to understand what the Chinese people are thinking of, and more likely to share the Chinese people's perspective in mulling over things.

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