Khmer Times, 22 October 2015
The four-day “super” state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to London and Manchester is a milestone in deepening bilateral ties between China and the UK.
President Xi was warmly welcomed by three generations of the British royal family, with a state carriage procession along the Mall to Buckingham Palace. He addressed both houses of parliament, met his counterpart, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and visited universities and businesses.
Queen Elizabeth II, who visited China in 1986, hails the importance of bilateral relations. She said the UK and China have a “truly a global partnership” and Xi’s visit is a “defining moment” for the future of the bilateral friendship and partnership.
China and the UK are “increasingly interdependent” and becoming “a community of shared interests,” Xi stated in addressing both houses of parliament.
“We will build a global, comprehensive strategic partnership between our countries in the 21st century and jointly open up a golden era,” Xi said at the UK-China Business Summit.
Cameron said the visit was taking bilateral relations to the next level which “means we can support each other to deliver the growth and the jobs that we both want,
“I am clear that the UK is China’s best partner in the West and this is in both our national interests.”
The UK has a special relationship with China. It was the first major Western country to recognize the newly established People’s Republic of China in January, 1950; the first Western country to forge a comprehensive partnership with China, in 2004; the first European member country to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; the first Western country that issue renminbi sovereign bonds.
China and the UK reached deals worth $62 billion, mainly targeting energy, tourism and healthcare.
Most notably, China’s General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) is going to take one-third of the total share of the planned $28 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant controlled by Électricité de France (EDF), which due to be built by 2025. It is the largest foreign direct investment in the UK.
‘Rights and Steel’
The nuclear plant will supply 7 percent of the UK’s electricity, power six million homes, and create 25,000 jobs, according to the BBC.
There are numerous other deals, including more than $18 billion of oil and gas ventures. The biggest of these is a $10 billion deal for Britain’s BP to supply China’s state owned power station, Huadian, with liquefied natural gas.
The two countries also reached an agreement on cyber security. They agreed not to support cybertheft of each other’s intellectual property. However, human rights and steel remain a thorny issue in the bilateral ties.
“I totally reject the idea you either have a conversation about human rights and steel or you have a strong relationship with China – I want both,” Cameron responded to a question from a journalist.
“The stronger our economic, trading, business and other partnerships, the stronger our relationship and the more able we are to have the necessary and frank discussions about other issues,” he added.
Overall, the China-UK partnership has reached a new level thanks to deepening economic integration, strengthened political and strategic trust, cultural exchanges and people-to-people ties.
China has successfully promoted its charm offensive in the UK and in Europe at large. China has become the main driving force of economic growth in Europe. European countries are pivoting to Asia and China is their most important partner.
The UK aims to be China’s closest partner in Europe.