Foreign and Military Affairs

UK leader's China visit to be 'historic'

By Ai Yang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-05 07:37
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BEIJING - British Prime Minister David Cameron's upcoming visit to China will be a "historic event" in bilateral relations, said the UK's ambassador to China on Thursday.

"It is the biggest-ever visit of UK ministers to China - and I'd go as far as to say it is a historic event," Sebastian Wood, the UK's ambassador to China told local press at a briefing in the embassy. He said it is a clear sign of the new coalition government's strong commitment to building on the relationship, and intensifying overall engagement with China.

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Along with David Cameron, the four accompanying cabinet ministers are respectively in charge of finance, business, climate and education. In addition, some 50 top UK business delegates from the retail, low carbon, energy, education services and creative sectors as well as the ICT industry will join the delegation.

Wood said the major theme for the two-day trip, which starts on Nov 9, is "partnership for growth" for both China and the UK. Indeed, the two countries' economies "fit very well", the ambassador said.

"The economic cycle in the UK now needs us to consume less, and have more inward investment - and this is where China can help," he said.

Wood added that China is welcome to invest in the UK and offer jobs and growth to the British economy, and stressed that the UK is "an attractive place, and excellent gateway for Chinese investment".

The coalition government in October outlined the sharpest cuts to public spending in Britain since World War II, aimed at clearing the country's record debts.

According to the British newspaper Daily Mail, around 900 workers stand to lose their jobs every day as austerity measures get under way. The report said experts predict about 1.6 million private and public sector jobs will be axed over the next five years.

Meanwhile a new dialogue mechanism for energy talks will be jointly launched by the British Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Huhne, and head of the National Energy Administration Zhang Guobao, the ambassador said.

Huhne was quoted as saying on Monday he hopes energy cooperation will become a "highlight" and "important achievement" of Cameron's visit to China, when he met the Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming.

The new dialogue aims to talk about important decisions on future energy supplies and security. "The talks are not just government to government, but also on a company to company level," Wood said. China is the largest export market for the UK's low-carbon goods and services, according to the British embassy.

When asked about whether the Cancun summit will also be on the agenda, Wood reiterated Britain's call for a "stronger international framework" that would limit carbon emissions from developing as well as developed nations. However, "China is making positive moves in its domestic policies", the ambassador said, adding he hopes to see the same thing on a bigger scale.