Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday hailed the trade and economic ties between China and Britain, expressing great confidence in the further development of bilateral relations.
In a speech delivered to the British business community shortly after arriving in London for a working visit, Wen said China-British economic relations have been growing rapidly over the years.
In 1980, bilateral trade volume was a mere US$1 billion, Wen said, adding that it reached US$24.5 billion last year and it could well surpass US$30 billion this year.
Noting that British businesses are making great strides in China, he said British Petroleum, Shell, Unilever and British Telecom are increasing their investment in China. Seven British financial institutions are also involved in the development of China's banking sector.
Investment from British entrepreneurs amounted to US$13.5 billion, said Wen, adding that British companies have not only brought to China capital, technology and managerial expertise, but also their friendship to the Chinese people.
Even with the rapid growth of China-Britain business ties, great potential still remains to be tapped, the premier said.
He urged the British business community to further the trade ties just as the "ice-breakers" in the early days of our relations" to take bilateral business relations to a new level.
After his speech made before a dinner organized by the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), Wen also answered questions raised by entrepreneurs regarding innovation, clean energy in China and the competitiveness of British businesses in the country.
CBBC is Britain's leading agency helping British companies do business in China. It is a business-led partnership between government and industry with a proven track record of developing British trade in China dating back to the 1950s.
With some 400 British company members, it delivers a range of practical, cost-effective services to British companies wishing to export goods and services to, invest in, or establish manufacturing under license arrangements with China.
(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2006)