China-UK friendship grows fast

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, April 10, 2012
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The relationship between China and the UK isn't a zero-sum game but should be one of respect and trust, said the Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming.

"We should see each other's developments in an open and positive manner, discuss different opinions as equals and seek common ground as much as possible," Liu told China Daily as the two countries celebrated the 40th anniversary of their full diplomatic relations on Tuesday.

"China and the UK have developed a stable relationship. Our mutual understanding continues to deepen."

The political relationship between China and the UK was elevated to ambassadorial level 40 years ago, on March 13, 1972. This diplomatic relationship enabled the two countries to resolve many issues, including the transfer of Hong Kong's sovereignty in 1997.

Since then, this relationship has strengthened. In 1998, China and the UK established a comprehensive partnership. In 2004, it was upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

"We have been in close discussions on important global issues including the reform of the international financial system, global trade and global warming," said Liu.

Additionally, the two countries have established a prime ministerial-level annual meeting, the Economic and Financial Dialogue, the Strategic Dialogue, Security Dialogue, Joint Economic and Trade Committee, Joint Commission on Science and Technology and other meetings.

British Prime Minister David Cameron visited China in 2010. This was followed by a visit to the UK by Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang in January 2011 and by Premier Wen Jiabao last June.

Liu added that China and the UK must cooperate further to combat the global challenges of non-traditional security issues.

"As China and the UK are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, both countries have a responsibility to maintain global peace and security," he said.

Meanwhile, trade and investments between China and the UK have increased dramatically over the past 40 years.

Bilateral trade increased by more than 200 times from 300 million U.S. dollars in 1972 to 58.7 billion dollars now.

Bilateral investment now stands at 20 billion dollars. China's investment in the UK has grown from almost none in 1972 to more than 2.3 billion, of which half of these investments were made last year.

Looking to the future, Liu added that further opportunities for cooperation between the two countries exist in a range of industries.

"As the first country to undergo the industrial revolution, Britain has valuable skills and management experience in many sectors, including technology, financial services, health care, and low-carbon economy.

"China on the other hand, has a large market and abundant human resources, which can support the UK's economic growth.

"Hence both sides should make the most of their competitive advantages, and agree more cooperation in fields including infrastructure, high-tech manufacturing, alternative energy and energy conservation."

Liu welcomed the increasing exchanges of culture and people between the two countries.

In 1972, the UK only received 200 Chinese students while China only received 100 British students.

Today, more than 1 million business people, students and tourists travel between the two countries every year. There is a choice of more than 10 direct flights every day.

"More and more British youths are curious about China and are interested in learning Chinese," Liu said, explaining that there are now 19 Confucius institutes and 60 Confucius classrooms in the UK. Confucius institutes are non-profit organizations aiming to promote the Chinese language and culture.

"I am glad to note that the 40th anniversary of China-UK full diplomatic relations has coincided with the 60 years of the British Queen's reign and the London Olympics. I am confident about the future of China-UK relations," he said.

A high level mechanism for people-to-people exchanges between the two countries will soon be launched. Britain will become the second country to have this partnership with China after the US.

In addition, China will be honored as a Market Focus country at the London Book Fair in April and the UK will also hold the arts festival UK Now in China later this year.

"This year will mark a new start for China and the UK," Liu added.

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