The Britain-China ties have never been better, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday in a written interview with Xinhua.
Just one day before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrives in London for an official visit, Brown said that Wen and he launched a "new stage of this partnership" in Beijing last January, and the year since then has been a "momentous one" in bilateral relations.
"Our bilateral engagement, and our cooperation on issues of international concern, have deepened throughout the year with new mechanisms established on foreign policy and economic cooperation," said Brown.
"The mutual respect and confidence we have developed enable us to address difficult issues constructively," he said.
The British leader hoped that in 2009 the two countries "can build on the strong foundations established so far -- through our response to the global economic crisis, our cooperation in the G20, and our approach to the crucial climate change negotiations in Copenhagen at the end of the year."
"I believe we should set our joint ambitions high and work tirelessly to achieve them," he said.
Brown said he would discuss global financial crisis with Wen during his visit, noting that it would be "vital" for Britain and China, two of the world's leading economies, to work together to tackle the issue.
"Economic and financial ties between our countries have never been stronger," hailed the British head of government, mentioning the fact that Britain is the EU's largest investor in China and there are over 380 Chinese companies operating in Britain.
As for the upcoming financial summit scheduled for April in London, Brown said that China and other major emerging economies would play an "integral role" in "identifying the actions that will resolve the global crisis and lay the foundations for stable growth for the 21st century."
"We must work together to strengthen our financial sectors and international institutions to respond to this crisis and prevent future ones," he called.
Brown also urged the world to support free trade, noting "maintaining support for open markets will be vital to restoring the health of the world economy."
"Protectionism is the wrong response to the current crisis; turning inwards will harm our economies and delay the global return to higher growth," he warned.
"Open markets are in all our interests including the EU's and China's," he said. "We must stay dedicated to them," he said.