China always supports European integration and hopes to see an important role of the EU in regional and international affairs, President Hu Jintao said in London Wednesday.
"China and the EU have established a comprehensive strategic partnership, and our cooperation in such areas as science, technology, culture, education, environmental protection and social development has proved to be very productive," Hu said in a speech delivered at a dinner hosted by Alderman Michael Savory, the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
China is the largest developing country in the world, and the EU is the largest group of developed countries, he noted.
"As such, both of us have the heavy responsibility for safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, and we should therefore forge an even closer partnership," Hu stressed.
Speaking about the China-UK relationship, he said that the UK was among the first major Western countries to recognize the People's Republic of China and to engage in economic exchanges and trade with it.
The successful resolution of the Hong Kong question through peaceful negotiations has laid a sound foundation for the growth of bilateral relations, he added.
"The Sino-British relationship has now entered a new phase of sustained development, and achieved gratifying results, particularly in economic cooperation and trade," Hu said.
"I am confident that today, when peace and development are the dominant themes of our times, so long as we enhance mutual trust and work together to blaze new trails, the China-UK comprehensive strategic partnership will surely produce more fruitful results," he added.
Britain is the EU's largest investor in China and also China's third largest trading partner within the bloc. Bilateral trade amounted to US$19.7 billion in 2004.
Hu arrived in London earlier Tuesday for a state visit to Britain at the invitation of British Queen Elizabeth II.
Britain is the first leg of Hu's four-nation tour of Western Europe and Asia. He will also visit Germany, Spain and South Korea and attend the 13th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Busan on November 18-19.
(Xinhua News Agency November 10, 2005)