Premier Li's Europe trip to deepen win-win cooperation
BEIJING - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is to visit Britain and Greece next week -- his third trip to Europe since taking office in March last year and China's latest waltz with the continent following President Xi Jinping's tour in late March.
From Central and Eastern Europe to Northern, Southern and Western Europe, and from continental Europe to Britain, the footprints of the Chinese leaders are highly demonstrative of the great importance Beijing attaches to China-Europe ties.
CHINA-BRITAIN TIES: CLEARING HURDLES AND PRESSING AHEAD
As for the China-Britain dimension in specific, Li's upcoming visit is of particular significance.
It indicates that the two sides have managed to ride out a rough patch in their relationship and put bilateral interaction back on the right track.
In November 2010, just half a year after becoming the British prime minister, David Cameron traveled to China.
However, relations between the two global heavyweights took a nosedive in May 2012 when Cameron insisted on meeting the Dalai Lama despite Beijing's objections.
Not till more than one and a half years later did the icy China-Britain relationship begin to thaw.
In October a high-level British delegation headed by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited China, and in December Beijing played host to Cameron.
Cameron's visit to China "served as a sign that China-Britain relations had returned to normal," commented Ma Zhengang, a former ambassador to Britain.
Li's trip is to build upon the momentum and infuse new vigor into the China-Britain comprehensive strategic partnership, which observes its 10th anniversary this year and boasts increasing strategic, reciprocal and global significance.
Bilateral trade exceeded the historic mark of 70 billion U.S. dollars in 2013 and recorded an 11-percent upswing year on year, remarkably higher than the 2.1-percent growth for the overall China-Europe trade.
More encouraging than the numbers is the quality of bilateral economic cooperation. China has replaced Germany as the largest source of Britain' s imports of machinery and electronic products, and Chinese investment in Britain is soaring. Moreover, China is partaking in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Britain, and eyeing investment in British high-speed rail projects.
Also noteworthy is bilateral financial cooperation. The London City, which witnessed a 50-percent rise in RMB transactions last year, has grown into the second largest offshore RMB market, only next to Hong Kong, and the Chinese premier is meet with Britain's financial elite during his stay in London.
Cooperation between China and Britain enjoys huge potential, said Ma, the former ambassador, noting that Britain's relatively ageing infrastructure presents great opportunities for Chinese investors and exporters.
China, he added, also possesses considerable advantages in such sectors as nuclear power and high-speed rail thanks to the advanced technology it has developed and the competitive cost-effectiveness of its products.