President Xi's Visit Puts China-UK Cooperation on Fast-track | 作者: Zhang Bei | 时间: 2015-10-28 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United Kingdom has received much publicity and media coverage. The UK has greeted Xi with great pomp and Chinese flags have been hoisted outside Buckingham Palace and the Mall, leading from the Queen's official home to Trafalgar Square.


The visit is well-arranged to include interactions with the Royal family, Parliament, and government officials, as well as reaching out to British commercial, financial, cultural and educational sectors to highlight China-UK cooperation projects.


It's the first visit of a Chinese head of state to the UK in past ten years and unlike his European tour last year, which covers several European countries in a row, Xi  flew 8,000 miles only to the UK.


In the past two years, there has been accelerated China-UK cooperation. In 2014, the UK has overtaken the Netherlands to become China’s second largest trading partner inside the EU, and the UK is China's number one investment destination in Europe.


Breakthroughs have been made in financial cooperation deals, including the first currency swap agreement between Beijing and London, with banks in the UK getting awarded with the first Renminbi RQFII quota outside of Asia.


The UK has become the first Western Country to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), highlighting London's shrewdness, as well as its openness.  The British government has strengthened its commitment to bilateral relations, as demonstrated from high-profile visits of its leadership and dignitaries.


Prime Minister Cameron declared in 2013 that the Commonwealth would be China's strongest advocate in the West and Chancellor George Osborne promised to "stick together" with China.


The UK is recognizing China's importance in its development. The UK is in an economic recovery after the European debt crisis, but its prospects are not all rosy. The on-going deficit, imbalanced regional development and a lack of investment in infrastructure are hurting the country's economic competitiveness.


Cameron vows to deliver on greater security and prosperity for his people. London is adjusting its views. Cameron believes that a global power shift is inevitable.


To reassert UK's role and interests, London must bond with the emerging countries. UK is strengthening ties with the Gulf States, Southeastern Asia, while China has stood out as its most valuable partner.


China values the UK. The Commonwealth's qualities make it unique and valuable. China needs its financial expertise for further development, which has grown into a pillar for China-UK cooperation.


Compared with other Western countries, the UK is open to China in projects, such as the high-speed railways and nuclear plants. President Xi has lauded the UK's "openness" during an interview with Reuters new agency. The UK's status in Europe, transatlantic partnership and the Commonwealth also make it attractive.


Nonetheless, the UK is undergoing a rough time in its relations with the EU. London has embarked on the current "EU reform and UK referendum" discussion, which would determine whether the UK stays in the EU.


China is advocating the New Type of Major Country Relations with the US, while better China-UK relations could boost China-US relations.


The UK's rich experience as a strategic player on the international stage could provide insights for China, an emerging big power with limited experience in steering through the complexities of international affairs.


Beijing and London can cooperate on regional and global issues for the betterment of world peace and development.


China seeks win-win results from its cooperation with the UK and Xi's visit could accelerate bilateral cooperation. The UK and China are enjoying the best time in bilateral relations, with greater opportunities still on the horizon.


With an open mind and pragmatic approach, the two sides could achieve even more in the coming years. In laying out the overall trajectory with the British leadership and reaching out to both business and the public, Xi’s visit would build a solid foundation for bilateral cooperation.


The golden decade of China-UK cooperation has arrived after years of hard work and both sides should tap into the benefits.




Zhang Bei is an assistant research fellow from the Department for European Studies, China Institute of International Studies. 

Source:, October 20, 2015.