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President Xi adds new dimension to Sino-British relations

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

10-15-2015 11:37 BJT

By Zha Peixin, former Chinese Ambassador to the UK

Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland next week, October 19 to 23. This is the first time in a decade for the sitting Chinese President to visit the UK again, a major event for Sino-British relations, and an important diplomatic move by China this year. Xi’s forthcoming visit will be of great significance to promote Sino-British relations to maintain world peace and common development. Since China and the UK established diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level in 1972, they have made tremendous progress.

Especially after the 1997 return of Hong Kong to China, it’s entering a new stage of rapid development. In 1998, the two sides formed a comprehensive cooperative partnership. In 2004, Sino-British relations were upgraded to the comprehensive strategic partnership level.

Leaders of the two countries have engaged in regular meetings, strategic dialogues, high-level financial dialogues and advanced people-to-people exchanges; along with expanded cooperation in various fields.

President Xi adds new dimension to Sino-British relations

President Xi adds new dimension to Sino-British relations

Sino-British trade has witnessed rapid development. In 2014, bilateral trade volume exceeded 80 billion US dollars for the first time, more than double from five years ago. The UK has been China's leading trade partner in the European Union and is the largest foreign direct investor in China among EU nations.

As of 2014, British investment in China amounted to US$19.6 billion. In recent years, Chinese investment in the UK has risen dramatically as well. Up to 2014, China's contracted investment in the UK totaled US$42 billion, among which the actual investment stood at US$12.1 billion.

Large-scale cultural activities - Creative Britain, China Cultural Festival, and Epoch China - remain popular. The annual Spring Festival or traditional Chinese Lunar New Year celebrated in London has regularly attracted more than 200,000 participants. Some British believe the Spring Festival in London has become more popular than Christmas.

On the education front, Britain has accepted more Chinese students than any other European country, with 150,000 enrolled. More than 6,000 British students are studying in China. Many Chinese are learning English, while the British enthusiasm for learning Chinese is on the rise. China has opened 28 Confucius Institutes in the UK, and many UK secondary schools offer Chinese language courses.

In regards to tourism, Chinese tourists to the UK amounted to 530,000 last year, and the UK to China, more than 600,000. Exchanges connected to technology, health, sports have been fruitful as well.

Bilateral relations have maintained strong momentum this year, with frequent high-level visits and pragmatic cooperation. Sino-British relations may likely bloom even more.

It is an opportune time to promote Sino-British relations. From a geopolitical perspective, there is no conflict of fundamental interests between China and Britain. After Hong Kong’s return, there are no major pending issues for the two sides to address.

The British government is optimistic about China's development prospects, China's huge market and promising business opportunities generated by the rise of China. Britain recognizes that China is the world's second largest economy, and likely to become number one in the future. Seizing development opportunities and deepening cooperation with China in various fields stands in line with the fundamental interests of the UK.

They can enjoy win-win cooperation since the two economies complement each other. Britain was the first country to achieve industrialization and urbanization in the world. Its service sector accounts for a major proportion of their economy.

China is in the process of industrialization and urbanization, and stepping up economic restructuring and upgrades. China hopes to realize the internationalization of the RMB, Britain wants to maintain London’s status as an international financial center. There exists a great potential  for both sides to achieve a win-win cooperation in financial sector.

With different social systems and ideologies, China and Britain hold divergent viewpoints on certain issues, but the common concerns of both sides far outweigh the disparities. Despite ups and downs, friendly cooperation has been pivotal to bilateral relations.

British government leaders have stressed their willingness to be the most open country to China in the Western world. Sino-British relations have enjoyed strong support from both sides. Sino-British relations conform with the fundamental interests of both countries that would be conducive to stable development for world peace and prosperity.

Meetings between top leaders have played an irreplaceable role. They will not only exchange views on issues of mutual interests, but are expected to indicate the direction of bilateral relations for the long-term future. This would determine a blueprint to embark on a new journey of bilateral cooperation.

The two sides should concentrate on certain aspects: To enhance mutual political trust and respect each other's strategic interests and concerns; respect their sovereignty independence, territorial integrity and development interests; respect their independent choices on social systems and development paths that are suitable for their national conditions.

To deepen pragmatic cooperation. To support development strategies that seize projects in key areas, to mobilize enthusiasm of all parties, and to implement cooperation that bring tangible benefits for both sides.

To strengthen people-to-people exchanges, and to eliminate prejudices, misconceptions and incomprehensions.

To keep close consultation on major international and regional issues. China and the UK are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, shouldering a special responsibility to maintain world peace and stability.

In today's world, global issues are becoming more prominent. No country can stand alone and deal with these challenges by itself. Strengthening international cooperation is an objective need. China and Britain can work together to improve global economic governance, combat climate change, and promote a political settlement of hot-spot issues.

As long as both parties work side by side, they will enter a new stage of harmony.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.



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