Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao heads for UK-China Summit

11:25, June 24, 2011      

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On the eve of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Britain for the United Kingdom-China Summit from June 25 to June 27, Dan Chugg, political counselor of the British Embassy in Beijing, offered to Chinese journalists an outline of expected talks between Premier Wen and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The United Kingdom-China Summit is an annual summit between the heads of the two countries. The last summit took place in Beijing in November, when Prime Minister Cameron made his first visit to China along with the United Kingdom's largest ever ministerial delegation to China. During his visit, he delivered a raft of new agreements in the fields of trade, education, climate change and counter-proliferation.

On this year's return visit, Premier Wen will head to London accompanied by a number of Chinese ministers and senior officials. During his three-day trip to Britain, Premier Wen will attend the summit and a banquet lunch on June 27 at Number 10 Downing Street, the office and house of the Prime Minister, Chugg said.

The main goals of the summit are to strengthen bilateral relations, to improve mutual understanding and to demonstrate the closeness of two nations as well as to broaden and deepen their cooperation but also to have some discussions about some global issues important to both China and the United Kingdom.

"It is a great opportunity to share some of the thoughts we have about the work we are doing together, about the cooperation we have and about the areas we can improve our cooperation, and also to talk about some areas where we might not entirely agree. We always do this in a friendly but formal way in theses summits," Chugg said.

Chugg highlighted some of the key points the summit is expected to generate. First, it is "Partner for Growth," a term that came out of an agreement between Premier Wen and Cameron last year based on the complementary nature of the two economies. “Partner for Growth” is about pushing forward business opportunities and signing trade contracts.

"For example, if you look at China's five-year plan and some of the areas that are important to China, whether they are hi-tech, green tech, health care services, financial services, pensions, social security and a lot of things China wants to develop over the coming five years, there are actually areas where the United Kingdom already has a lot of expertise and strength. So this is clearly an area where if we work together with the respect of our governments and the respect of businesses, hopefully we should be able to come up with some results that will bring benefits to both sides," he said.

Second, it is market access for companies in the United Kingdom and China. Chugg said complaints from both sides that it is difficult doing business in the other country are heard sometimes, so the summit will work on facilitating foreign business for those companies.

However, Chugg stressed that the United Kingdom is actually an ideal place to set up and run a business, as it is ranked as the fourth place for ease of doing business behind Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand, according to a recent study by the World Bank.

In addition, he pointed out the United Kingdom's great strength in financial services. "London is arguably the world's most important financial center. In 2009, Britain's trade surplus in financial services was 40 billion [British pounds sterling] despite tough market conditions, so even when things were really bad, London was still making a lot of money out of financial services. We have more foreign banks and headquarters in the United Kingdom than anywhere else in the world."

Third it is about global issues, including climate change, global economy, the Doha Development Round and counter-proliferation. On most of these issues, Britain and China shared information regularly and cooperated very well with each other, Chugg said.

"We have lots of the same objectives around the world, although we might have slightly different views and sometimes we have to meet those objectives," he said. "Often our objectives are very similar. So I think that’s what we have to talk about."

Fourth, it is the two sides' cooperation in the Africa. In African countries, like the Congo and Tanzania, Britain and China have trilateral projects among Britain, China and an African country, where "we can use Chinese enthusiasm and business interests combined with Britain's experience as developed assistance as well as the need of the African countries," The summit is expected to further develop these trilateral projects.

Fifth, eight or nine memorandums of understanding are expected to be signed across a whole range of different areas. Among those areas, Chugg particularly emphasized the area of education cooperation and exchanges.

He illustrated, "There are more Chinese students in the United Kingdom than from any other foreign country. There are more Confucius Institutes in the United Kingdom than in any other country. We have an increasing number of U.K. students coming to China, and we also have an increasing number of U.K. universities and schools that are setting up in China."

Last, the summit will likely deal with foreign policy issues, such as the North Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, South Asia, Europe-China and euro zone financial issues.

By Zheng Qingting, People's Daily Online
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