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  • Oct 18, 2014
  • Updated: 10:40am

Li Keqiang

Li Keqiang, born in 1955, became China's premier in March 2013. Like ex-president Hu Jintao, his power base lies with the Communist Youth League, where he was a member of the secretariat of the league’s central committee in the 1980s and later in the 1990s the secretariat’s first secretary. His regional governance experience includes a period as vice party boss, governor and party boss of Henan province between 1998 and 2003 and party boss of Liaoning province beginning in 2004. He became vice premier in 2008. Li graduated from Peking University with a degree in economics. 

NewsChina
DIPLOMACY

Royal start for Li Keqiang’s UK trip as China, Britain seal trade deals worth HK$184b

Strictly business for Cameron and Li, with politics kept off the table

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 8:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 4:30pm
 

China and Britain signed trade deals worth over £14 billion (HK$184 billion) during a visit by Premier Li Keqiang in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday.

Both sides are seeking to mend ties that were strained when Cameron met the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, in 2012.

Watch: China, Britain announce £14 bn deal

At a joint press conference Cameron said he and Li had reviewed the two countries' relationship, including the part of it concerning Hong Kong.

"This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signature of the Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, which enshrined our two governments’ commitment to Hong Kong’s prosperity, stability and way of life, in accordance with the ‘one country, two systems’ principle," Cameron said.

Business, not thorny political topics, dominated the visit, with the two sides focusing on potential collaboration in nuclear power, high-speed railways and finance.

In announcing the deals, Cameron said Britain was a "strong and good friend of China and supporter of China's rise". He stressed the importance of the ties to Britain's economic recovery. British energy giant BP said earlier that it would be signing a deal worth around US$20 billion over 20 years with Chinese state-owned firm CNOOC to supply China with liquefied natural gas.

The UK had made significant efforts to improve relations with Beijing since the cooling of relations after Cameron met the Dalai Lama, said Hugo Williamson, managing director of the Risk Resolution Group, a consultancy based in London.

"Cameron now looks to project the UK as China's best friend in the West," he said.

Earlier, a military band played to welcome Li and his wife, Cheng Hong , to Windsor Castle, before Queen Elizabeth greeted the pair in a lavishly decorated drawing room.

The Chinese leader then travelled to central London for a formal inspection of British soldiers and a meeting with Cameron at his office in Downing Street.

Cameron told reporters that he and Li had also discussed terrorism, Iraq and Ukraine, among other topics. He did not directly address China's human rights record, a subject that often raises Beijing's ire.

Around 100 rights activists campaigning for Tibetan independence and other issues staged a colourful protest near Downing Street, fighting for attention with a rival pro-China group. A heavy police presence held the protesters at arms' length, though their chants could be heard as Cameron and Li shook hands and posed for photographers.

Li's meeting with the queen was a significant political gesture because the privilege is typically granted to heads of state. Analysts say China probably pushed for the royal audience, underscoring its increasingly aggressive approach to diplomacy.

Asked about Chinese ambassador Liu Xioming's earlier remark that Britain ranked below Germany and France in terms of China's European ties, Li said at the press conference he had high hopes for Sino-British ties.

"There's an old saying in China that when you are at one mountain you shall sing their local song," Li said. "I am in the UK and I'd say that I hope China-UK relations can become the driving force of China-EU relations."

After the UK, Li will visit Greece later this week.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse

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This article is now closed to comments

jiawang@adb.org
For £14 billion a Chinese leader gets to meet the Queen of England. Umm . . .
Ant Lee
look at those staged chinese supporters with those hard core chinese communist faces....always a disgrace in everywhere..
53a0f32c-26c4-48d4-88fe-08e80a3209ca
China & UK are friends.
we like peaceful in the worldwide.
OldPeak Toad
Hmmm... 14 Billion Quid... might not even be enough to cover the cost overrun of the Bohai Strait Tunnel project - if you let the Brits build it!
ejmciii
mainland royalty sucks up to English royalty. How charming.
I Gandhi
So British Prime Minister David Cameron and British Queen Elizabeth can also suck up to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang! Obviously money talks especially when you have a strong military too. Respect is earned not given. When will Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Philippines President Benigno Aquino III get the same British treatment?
ejmciii
They go to the White House where real power resides.
Dao-Phooy
I guess this will take pride of place in Li Keqiang's album. Rest assured the Queen didn't voluntarily invite him for tea!
chaz_hen
Is this a case where the Queen "takes one for the team" and does the stiff upper lip in the name of diplomacy?
nicolas
It's so ashame and pityful that chinese premier li keqiang have to make a bargain just to meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth II...It simply not a national pride and just a rubbish communist official...

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