British PM to visit China in Dec

Updated: 2013-11-25 22:03

By Zhang Chunyan in London (

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British Prime Minister David Cameron will pay an official visit to China from December 2 to 4, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.

Cameron is invited by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, spokesman Qin Gang said at the ministry's daily press briefing.

China and Britain should seize new opportunities to further promote their relations, the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom said.

“As big countries with global influence, China and Britain both focus on boosting economic growth and developing foreign relations. They should make efforts to enhance mutual trust and mutual benefits under the new situation,” Ambassador Liu Xiaoming told China Daily.

Liu’s remarks precede British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to China early next month.

According to the Foreign Ministry’s announcement on Monday, Cameron, who visited China once, in 2010, since he assumed office, will visit China from Dec 2 to 4.

He will bring a huge delegation of ministers and business leaders on the trip.

Liu said that China is broadening and deepening reform and opening-up after the Third Plenum of the 18th of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. The Shanghai free trade zone is the latest outcome.

At the same time, Britain is also promoting reforms in finance, education, medical care and social welfare areas, he added.

“We both should make efforts to realize complementary advantages for a mutual benefits in economy, and promote the development of the world free trade system,” Liu said.

China is the UK’s second-largest trading partner, outside the EU. Bilateral trade is expected to hit $100 billion by 2015.

From January to October, China-UK bilateral trade continued to grow and registered an increase of 7.5 percent with a total volume of $56.1 billion.

Britain’s economic strengths and its open attitude toward foreign investment have enabled fast growth of Chinese investment in Britain. “In the past year and a half, Chinese investments exceeded the total of the previous three decades,” Liu said.

Since the beginning of this year, there has been a surge of project investments. Chinese companies have invested or are planning to invest in more than 10 big projects in Britain worth nearly $5 billion. These projects cover a wide range of areas, including infrastructure, real estate and automobile manufacturing.

The two sides are also exploring investment and cooperation opportunities in oil and gas, nuclear power and offshore wind farms, Liu added.

China and Britain also signed a currency-swap agreement worth 20 billion pounds ($32.4 billion), which will further facilitate trade and investment.

But he also pointed out that Britain is the world’s second-largest innovative country, while British high-technology exports to China ranks only fifth in the European Union.

“Sino-UK technology trade has a huge potential, as China is undergoing an economic transformation and industrial upgrading,” Liu said.

The growth of Sino-UK relations also saw abundant exchanges in many fields, including education, culture, research and health.

“We stand ready to work with the British side for a more healthy and stable Sino-UK relationship on the basis of respecting each other’s core interests and major concerns.”

Liu’s opinions were echoed by Wang Qing, a professor of marketing and innovation at Warwick Business School in the UK.

“This visit is particularly significant due to its timing,” Wang said. “It comes immediately after the Third Plenum, which set out an extremely ambitious goal for China for the next 10 years under the new leadership. It is well-planned, and the Chinese side is warmed up and ready to discuss significant collaborations,” Wang said.

Cameron is hoping to establish a mutual and reciprocal relationship with China by enabling more British firms to access the vast and fast-growing market in China, as well as bringing more Chinese investment into the UK, Wang added.

Tian Dewen, a of European studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Cameron’s visit to China marked the renormalization of political relations between the two countries.

“Bilateral ties are stable and enjoy an all-weather relationship,” although relations are influenced by occasional displeasure with each other, Tian said.

Jonathan Fenby, a leading analyst on China and co-founder of Trusted Sources, an independent provider of research and consulting on emerging markets, said Cameron will try to strengthen political ties in the wake of the row over the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Cameron last year. Fenby also said Cameron will set the context for a continued economic relationship with Chinese investment in the UK and opportunities for British companies in China.

Zhang Fan in Beijing contributed to this story.