British Prime Minister David Cameron backs China to 'realise its dream'

As British prime minister agrees wide-ranging business deals in Beijing, he says two countries can 'help each other succeed in the global race'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 11:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 12:52pm

Premier Li Keqiang and British Prime Minister David Cameron oversaw the signing of business deals yesterday ranging from high-speed rail projects to nuclear power, while leaving contentious human rights issues on the sidelines.

Cameron's second visit to Beijing - accompanied by Britain's largest ever business delegation to China, with 130 members - marked the full reconciliation of Sino-British ties after Cameron's controversial meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.

In a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, President Xi Jinping told Cameron he hoped the two countries would "transcend differences in their conditions, institutions and values" and deepen mutual understanding.

Xinhua quoted Xi as saying: "[Both sides] should take into account each other's major concerns and core interests, enhance mutual trust and chart the future of relations."

Xi also said he hoped London would be more open to economic co-operation.

Video: UK's Cameron focuses on business during China visit

Cameron was quoted as saying that Britain held its relationship with China in high regard and would increase dialogue on the basis of mutual respect.

After the meeting, Li said Britain and China had become "indispensible partners for each other's development". He compared Sino-British relations to a high-speed train that can "move forward along the track and constantly increase its speed".

Cameron said: "I see China's rise as an opportunity, not just for the people of this country, but for Britain and the world. Britain wants China to realise its dream and I believe we can help each other succeed in the global race."

Xinhua reported that both sides agreed to promote each other's companies to seek breakthroughs in high-speed rail and nuclear power co-operation.

Britain said it would streamline processes for Chinese citizens to enter Britain for business and tourism purposes.

Both sides also signed agreements on investment, finance, legal affairs, culture and health care co-operation.

Cameron told Li he would call on the European Union to negotiate a free trade deal with China.

He said he believed the EU deal could be worth "tens of billions" of pounds a year.

Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, noted that Cameron had so far avoided contentious issues - including human rights and political reforms - and that the visit had been "purely about economic interests".

He added: "Cameron said a lot of things to create a good atmosphere … people can argue whether such business deals are good for the UK, but what the UK can actually do for China in Europe is limited."

Reuters reported that a senior source in Cameron's office said before the trip that Britain had turned the page on a rift with China over Tibet, and that Cameron had no plans to meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.