China and Britain - comprehensive strategic partners

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 20, 2014
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How to respond to China's rise has been a major test for Western leaders. U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that Washington welcomes a strong and prosperous China. It has indeed engaged China, especially in economics and trade. But at the same time, it is doing its best to contain China's rise, using its allies Japan and the Philippines to stir up troubles and is trying to slow China's growth.

Not so with British Prime Minister David Cameron. He is on record as having declared: China's rise is one of the "defining facts" of our age and we must "like it or lump it", last December when he visited China along with a huge delegation. He also said China is an opportunity, not a threat. And he offered to be Beijing's strongest advocate in the West, saying no country is more ready than Britain to welcome China to the "top table of global affairs."

"Lump it" admirably describes the dual attitude of the United States.

Cameron said those glowing words partly to mend relations which were strained after he met with the Dalai Lama in 2012. But he made good of his promise when he declared that he would continue to press the EU to strike a trade deal with China and for free trade within the G20 and WTO members at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Li has just completed a fruitful three day visit to London, where the two countries signed trade deals worth more than US$28 billion, including a 12 billion pound agreement by which BP will supply CNOOC 1.5 million tons of LNG per year over 20 years from 2019. And Royal Dutch Shell signed a cooperation agreement with CNOOC, covering upstream, midstream and downstream activities.

China Minsheng Investment Corporation, the country's largest private investment group, will open its European headquarters in London with an investment of 1.5 billion pounds in a range of sectors.

Premier Li also called on China and Britain to boost cooperation in nuclear power, high-speed railways, infrastructure and urbanization.

Earlier he had a cordial visit with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.

What is most notable is perhaps his speech at Chatham House in which he tried to calm some misgivings about China's rise. He said: "Expansion is not in the Chinese DNA, nor can we accept the logic that a strong country is bound to become hegemonic." He stressed China's determination to prevent territorial disputes from getting out of control, and to uphold order and stability and bring the issue back on track through consultation and negotiation.

"China's development over the past three decades has been achieved in a peaceful and stable environment. We have benefited from this environment. Why should we give up this benefit and this environment?" The argument is convincing.

He also assured the audience that there wouldn't be a hard landing for China's economy."

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the China-Britain comprehensive strategic partnership. Both leaders agree to seize the unique opportunity to lift bilateral relations to a new level.

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