'Golden year' in UK-China relations hailed by British PM

Updated: 2015-06-10 19:48

By Cao Yin in London and Chen Mengwei in Beijing

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British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed a "golden year" in UK-China relations, the high point of which will be the state visit of President Xi Jinping to Britain in October.

Cameron, who said he was looking forward to meeting Xi, was speaking after a meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Downing Street in London on Tuesday.

Wang said Xi's visit, his first since he took office in 2013, will be a milestone in the two countries' ties and could herald the dawn of a new era in relations.

"We should ensure it goes smoothly and bring our relations into a golden age," he added.

Cameron echoed his viewpoint and said the UK wants to improve relations with China and would like to be China's leading global partner.

Britain will push for greater bilateral trade, encourage two-way investment and welcomes China investing in various fields in the UK, including high-speed rail, aviation, telecommunication and civilian nuclear power, Cameron said.

Cameron also vowed to facilitate the EU-China Investment Agreement negotiations and support the feasibility study into an EU-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Tian Dewen, a researcher of European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Cameron's description of this year's relationship was rooted in his determination to speed up UK economic growth.

"The ruling Conservative Party's main focus for this term is to develop the economy and improve the lives of British people. That aim is directly reflected in Britain's high and clear expectations from its economic and trade cooperation with China," Tian said.

"Britain wants to seize opportunities to strengthen economic growth from working with the fast-developing Chinese economy. China also sees the benefits of working with Britain to get better overseas opportunities. The two countries share much common ground, like opposition to trade protectionism. Common interests will drive cooperation a long way," he added.

Wang also talked with several specialists from leading British think tanks earlier on Tuesday, hearing their ideas about China and answering questions about China-related issues, including the Belt and Road initiatives.

"China will prove our development will contribute to world peace and prosperity through our actions, and we'd like to have more communication with foreign experts, including British ones, in a move to help foreigners see China in a sensible, objective and friendly way," Wang said.

The British specialists, including Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Peter Nolan, professor at the University of Cambridge, said the UK and the EU attaching great importance to China's ongoing development, as China is one of the hottest topics in academia.

Despite China's growing influence in the world, some are still skeptical of its development, foreign policy and diplomacy, they noted.

They said the opportunity to meet Wang gave them a chance to better understand China's diplomacy and its positions on major international and regional issues.