China: Looking beyond differences for practical China-Britain cooperation

2nd Dec 2013

china UK Cameron in china trade mission 2 dec 2013


[Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) holds a welcoming ceremony for the visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 2, 2013.(Xinhua/Wang Ye)]

By Shang Jun

BEIJING, (Xinhua): British Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by a 100-strong business delegation, kicked off a high-profile visit to China on Monday.

The delayed visit is a chance that can’t be missed to bring China-Britain relations back on the right track.

Ties between Beijing and London cooled after Cameron persisted in meeting the Dalai Lama in May 2012, a move that interfered with China’s internal affairs.

For the smooth development of bilateral ties, a key lesson worth learning from that unhappy chapter is that the two countries should respect each other’s core interests and handle their differences in a proper and acceptable way.

It has to be noted there is no fundamental conflicting interests between China and Britain, while it is not unusual for the two countries to hold different views on certain issues due to their divergence in culture and social systems.

When differences emerge, communication is better than confrontation, and engaging is more effective than enraging.

A sound political relationship is the basis for the ever-expanding economic ties between China and Britain. By looking beyond their differences, the two countries can see a bigger picture.

With Beijing undertaking an ambitious reform plan to transform the world’s second largest economy and London exploring ways to escape its economic downturn, it is a good time for them to enhance practical cooperation for mutual benefit.

There is huge potential for economic cooperation between China and Britain, especially in the fields of financial services, nuclear energy and aviation.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Britain both played an important role in international affairs and can contribute more to world peace and stability by enhancing coordination.

Cameron’s China trip follows a recent visit paid by his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang to Romania, where the Chinese premier also attended a summit with a group of leaders from Central and Eastern European countries.

It was Li’s second tour to the European continent after he took office in March. In May, Li visited Germany and Switzerland on his maiden overseas trip as Chinese premier, which demonstrates the importance Beijing attaches to its ties with Europe.

As an important member of the European Union (EU), Britain can play a crucial role in promoting ties between China and the 28-nation bloc.

The visit will have Cameron and the new Chinese leadership meet for the first time. Compared with the frequent visits between Beijing and the European continent, Britain is lagging behind.

Cameron may be late but he is still in time.

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