State Councilor Yang Jiechi (R) and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond co-chair a strategic dialogue between China and Britain in Beijing, capital of China, Aug 13, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING — State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Aug 13 co-chaired a strategic dialogue with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who visited Beijing to prepare for President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK in autumn.
Xi will visit Britain in October at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II. This is the first visit by a Chinese president in a decade and the most important event in bilateral ties this year.
“This visit will guide the long-term development of China-Britain ties and is of great significance,” said Yang. China is willing to work with Britain to move the relationship to a new level, tap new potentials for practical cooperation and set a new model for international cooperation, he added.
“China and Britain will likely upgrade their relationship and sign big deals during President Xi’s trip,” said Cui Hongjian, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies.
The tour is viewed as a milestone in bilateral ties, following Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Britain in June 2014 and Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to China in November 2013.
China-Britain relations suffered following Cameron’s 2012 meeting with the Dalai Lama, who is described by the Chinese government as “a political exile engaged in secessionist activities”.
State Councilor Yang Jiechi (4th R) and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (3rd L) co-chair a strategic dialogue between China and Britain in Beijing, capital of China, Aug 13, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]
Now, however, with the political differences narrowed, both countries are looking to cooperate further on areas such as climate change, trade and security. As a leader in the green economy and environmental protection, Britain has a lot to offer China, especially ahead of an upcoming climate summit in Paris later this year, experts said.
As Britain contemplates its EU membership, it is paying more attention to markets outside the bloc. To this end it is offering more open and flexible policies than other EU members. Britain has become the second largest trade partner for China and the top destination for Chinese investment within the EU.
“Britain has pinned high hopes on China for trade. Its robust economic partnership with China has helped the British economy perform well and has boosted the cabinet’s confidence,” Cui said.
Yang called on Britain to take a more active and open China policy while Hammond said Britain was committed to enhancing trade and investment and cultural exchanges.
Britain is willing to explore cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative, Hammond said, referring to President Xi’s proposal to build stronger economic and cultural links with countries located along the ancient Silk Road via both land and sea.
Britain was the first country outside Asia to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the multilateral development body that will finance infrastructure building in Asia. This has been regarded as a major step for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.
With 57 founding members, the AIIB is expected to be formally established by the end of 2015.
Praising China-Britain cooperation in reaching a landmark agreement on Iranian nuclear issue on July 14, Hammond called on the two permanent members of the UN Security Council to work more closely in international affairs in the future.
As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of World War II and the founding of the United Nations, China is willing to work with international community including Britain to safeguard the outcome of the World War II victory and uphold the principles of the UN Charter, according to Yang.