Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Time to build new type of relationship with Great Britain

By Jiang Shixue (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-14 09:17

Although the United Kingdom recognized the People's Republic of China way back in 1950, bilateral relations have not progressed smoothly because the UK has been indifferent to China's core interests. For instance, after former British prime minister John Major met with the Dalai Lama in 1991, all his successors have followed his example, ignoring the fact that the political exile has long been engaged in anti-China and secessionist activities.

On Oct 29, 2008, David Miliband, then secretary of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, issued a "written ministerial statement", acknowledging that the UK's Tibet policy had been clouded by the position it took at the start of the 20th century on the status of Tibet, a position based on the geopolitics of the time. Miliband said that like every other European Union member state and the United States, the UK regards Tibet as part of the PRC and has made it clear to the Chinese government that it does not support "Tibetan independence". Before this, the UK admitted only China's "suzerainty" rather than "sovereignty" over Tibet.

Despite this, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met with the Dalai Lama in London on May 14, 2012, dealing a heavy blow to China-UK relations. As a result, until Cameron's three-day official visit to China in Dec 2013, Sino-British relations remained cold.

China and the UK both are permanent members of the UN Security Council and part of G20, and thus help resolve international issues. Given this fact, they should cooperate in the diplomatic and strategic fields to help maintain peace and facilitate development across the world.

In fact, Gerard Lyons, London Mayor Boris Johnson's chief economic adviser, has said that the UK should focus on building good relationships with two countries: Germany and China. Indeed, improved Sino-British economic and trade relations can help stimulate economic growth in the UK. The two economies are highly complementary, especially in the fields of manufacturing, finance and technology, and have great potential for more mutually beneficial cooperation.

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