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Be practical on the 'golden decade'

By Tom Rafferty ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-10-19 08:58:34

With Chinese President Xi Jinping about to embark on a state visit to the United Kingdom, British and Chinese officials are talking of a "golden decade" in bilateral relations. Ties have improved in recent years and economic interests have converged. However, the advancement is fragile, with uncertainty still surrounding whether the promised economic benefits of closer relations will materialize.

The recovery in UK-China ties has been impressive, given the nadir they dipped to in 2012 after Prime Minister David Cameron and the then deputy prime Minister Nick Clegg met privately with the Dalai Lama. China condemned the decision as a "serious interference" in its internal affairs.

Britain has since redeemed itself in China's eyes by focusing on commerce. This effort has been led, not by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but by the Treasury under George Osborne. The UK chancellor made a five-day visit to China in September, when he marketed the UK as China's "best partner in the West". In March, he also overrode concerns voiced within the FCO and by the UK's closest ally, the United States, to ensure Britain was the first European country to announce it planned to join the China-led Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank.

Be practical on the 'golden decade'

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