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Wen leaves Italy, arrives in London
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-09 22:16

Premier Wen Jiabao Sunday wrapped up a "successful" visit to Italy and arrived in London for a three-day official visit to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. In a sign of the growing economic importance of China, a chorus of warnings is coming from US experts about the impact of what is seen as an impending slowdown in the Asian economic powerhouse. [AFP file]
China and Italy signed a first-ever joint communique Friday night local time, calling on the nations to establish a stable, friendly, long-term and sustainable strategic partnership, as well to safeguard world peace and security through bilateral and multilateral joint efforts.

The communique, which was signed after talks between Wen and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi on Friday night in Rome, also indicated the two leaders have agreed to set up a China-Italy governmental committee to upgrade bilateral co-operation in all areas.

"It is the first time that China and Italy have issued such a communique since the two countries established diplomatic ties 34 years ago, and also the first time for China to set up such a high-level, co-ordinating body with a foreign government," the Chinese premier told reporters at a joint news press conference.

"China and Italy, both shouldering important responsibilities in international and regional affairs, should further contribute to consolidating Sino-European ties," the communique stated.

The document went on to say the two nations will enhance contacts and strengthen dialogue in anti-terror, the prevention of nuclear proliferation and the protection of human rights, along with co-operating in international organizations."

The two leaders agreed to co-operation on reforms of the United Nations Security Council.

On the Taiwan issue, the Italian Government reaffirmed its stance backing the one-China policy and its opposition to any steps that would change Taiwan's status and harm relations across the Taiwan Strait, it said.

The communique also pointed out that Sino-Italian economic co-operation and trade enjoy great potential since each are highly complementary and can bring benefits to both.

"The two governments will strengthen co-ordination, services and other functions in such areas within the framework of fully respecting the World Trade Organization principles, and create more favourable conditions for further development, with promoting two-way investment as a priority," the communique said.

With China and Italy each enjoying great historical pasts and ancient civilizations, the two leaders also discussed ways to enhance co-operation in culture, film and television, Wen said.

The Chinese premier also met with Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on Friday.

China is willing to increase co-operation on major international issues with Italy and other countries of the 25-member European Union (EU), Wen told Ciampi.

The Italian president said China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, plays a positive role in maintaining peace and stability and Italy highly appreciates the Chinese efforts at world stability.

During his visit in UK, Wen is expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday and hold talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday.

Wen also will meet British 48 Group Club principals.

It was shortly after the founding of the People's Republic of China that the 48 Group Club made a historic ice-breaking voyage to commence trade with China.

The two countries issued a joint statement to establish a comprehensive partnership in 1998, expanding the arena for further bilateral trade and economic co-operation. The United Kingdom is now China's largest European investor and its second largest trading partner in the EU.

In the last five years alone two-way trade has doubled. Last year, the bilateral trade volume enjoyed by the nations reached US$14.4 billion, a year-on-year jump of 26 per cent.

And bilateral relations have not been confined to economic co-operation.

The "Think UK" activities were a hit in China last year and a "Chinese cultural festival" is scheduled to take place in Britain this year. Currently there are over 60,000 Chinese studying in the United Kingdom.

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