British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in Beijing on Jan.18 for his first three-day state visit to China since taking office. His visit gives great prominence to China in his government's new global diplomatic strategy, and serves as an important link between the past and future for the consolidation and deepening of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the United Kingdom, which was formed in 1997.
China-UK relationship has gone through ups and downs in its long history, while the mainstream of bilateral ties keeps progressing. The UK is the first Western country to recognize the People's Republic of China after it was founded in 1949. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, China and the UK have seen their bilateral ties gradually improving despite some periodical turbulence. Particularly noteworthy is that in the year 1997, the two nations saw through the smooth return of Hong Kong's sovereignty to the mainland China.
In 2004, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Britain, and signed the China-UK Joint Declaration-- a milestone document—indicating that the comprehensive strategic partnership would be maturing as the two countries' strategic interests and objectives meet more frequently.
PM Brown's predecessor Tony Blair visited China 3 times during his 10 years in office. The Labor-Party government has always maintained the one-China policy and opposed the Taiwan authorities' intention to hold a referendum over bidding for UN membership.
As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Britain have common interests in maintaining world peace and security, and advancing joint development and prosperity. The two countries have conducted effective talks and dialogues in multiple areas, and expanded political cooperation in strategic security, anti-proliferation, and realizing sustainable development.
Brown's debut visit as the Prime Minister will elevate the Sino-UK relations to a new plane. PM Brown is well-informed about China, particularly about China's economy. In 2005, he paid a visit to China as Finance Minister. He will, undoubtedly, attach great importance to the bilateral economic and trade ties during his meetings with Chinese top leaders and relevant officials.
The Chinese and British economies are both dynamic and highly complementary to each other. Cooperation and competition coexist in the bilateral economic and trade relations.
The UK tops the EU for investment in China, and remains China's third largest trade partner. Bilateral trade value grew by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2007, with the annual total for the year expected to hit nearly $ 40 billion.
The recent years have not only witnessed a considerable surge in investments of both sides, but a year-on-year expansion in exchanges and communications of education and culture.
Additionally, Britain's achievements in the financial services, innovation and sustainable urban development industries, and the world-leading technology in such areas as clean energy, bio-fuels, new materials and environmental protection mean much more potential for China-UK trade and cooperation.
Since the beginning of the 21 century, China and Britain have explored more opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Now we are endowed with a rare opportunity to deepen China-UK ties significantly, which lies in the three international events—the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the 2012 London Olympiad.
Confronting globalization, China and Britain will have to forge a closer bond, for closer cooperation will help both of them better handle future global challenges.
Chinese culture believes that a man reaches his intellectual maturity at 40. The China-UK diplomatic ties are approaching this kind of maturity.
It will be the golden time for them to develop a long-term and more stable bilateral relationship, gearing for the win-win results and joint prosperity.
By People's Daily Online