Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming speaks during an interview with Chinese press in London, Britain, on Jan. 23, 2018. British Prime Minister Theresa May's upcoming official visit to China, the first since she took office in 2016, is expected to chart a new course and push forward the "Golden Era" for bilateral ties, said Liu Xiaoming. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
by Jin Jing, Gu Zhenqiu
LONDON, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May's upcoming official visit to China, the first since she took office in 2016, is expected to chart a new course and push forward the "Golden Era" for bilateral ties, said Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming.
The visit by May, also the first by a British prime minister to China since Chinese President Xi Jinping's tour to Britain in 2015 when both sides sealed the "Golden Era," will play the role of a "beacon" for the two countries' relations, Liu said in a joint interview with Chinese media.
ENRICH GOLDEN ERA
"The leaders of both countries are expected to enrich the meaning of the 'Golden Era' and chart a new course for the future ties," said the Chinese ambassador.
During May's upcoming visit from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, both sides will continue to dovetail their development strategies, expand the cooperative platform under the Belt and Road Initiative and enhance practical cooperation in such fields as finance, energy, infrastructure, food, high technology, creative industry and life sciences, Liu said.
"Golden fruits" have been yielded since the consensus of "Golden Era" was reached by both sides, he said.
Britain is China's second largest trading partner within the European Union (EU) and China is Britain's second largest non-EU trading partner.Trade volume between the two countries hit 79 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, up nearly 6.2 percent from the previous year, with Britain's exports to China increasing by 19.4 percent.
Meanwhile, more than 500 Chinese enterprises have set up their offices in Britain, with a total of 21.8 billion dollars invested in projects ranging from traditional areas like trade, finance and telecommunications to such emerging areas as new energy, high-end manufacturing, infrastructure and research centers, Liu noted.
The landmark Hinkley Point C nuclear project, with a third of the investment by a Chinese company, is well under construction, said Liu.
An enduring, open and win-win "Golden Era" of China-Britain ties is an exemplar for China-West cooperation based on equality and mutual benefit, he said, adding that May's visit will not only step up the "Golden Era" progress, but to push forward the stable and balanced development of China-Europe ties.
BELT AND ROAD IS NEW GROWTH POINT
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi in 2013 with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes, offers huge potential for China-UK cooperation.
In a major outcome reached at the recent China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), China and Britain are proposing a bilateral investment fund with the first round of one billion dollars to support the initiative.
When attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May, Philip Hammond, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, described Britain as "a natural partner" in the initiative.
As the first major Western country to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member, Britain has set a fine example for other countries to follow, Liu said.
In a bid to support British businesses' involvement in the initiative, the British government recently pledged up to 25 billion British pounds (33.3 billion dollars) worth of financial support for companies participating in the Belt and Road projects in Asia.
"I hope China and Britain will form an institutional framework under the Belt and Road Initiative at an early date, so as to provide guidance to companies from both countries as they set out to play a part in this initiative, achieve more substantive outcomes and build more flagship projects," said Liu.
BREXIT OFFERS OPPORTUNITY
Despite its uncertainties and challenges, Brexit offers an opportunity for China-UK ties as the British government aims to build a "Global Britain," said Liu.
The British government, while maintaining traditional ties with European countries and the United States, eyes a wider world for partnerships, which offers a "strategic opportunity" for a stronger China-UK relationship.
More opportunities, especially in such areas as infrastructure, RMB internationalization, green finance and technological innovation, will emerge as a post-Brexit Britain seeks to build global partnerships while sticking to free trade and an open economy, Liu said.
Liu believes that China and Britain will enhance their cooperation in global governance, climate change, sustainable development and anti-terrorism and peace-keeping as Britain after Brexit will attach more importance to its role in such global institutions as the United Nations and G-20.
The ambassador expressed his "full confidence" in China-UK ties despite possible "overspill risks" caused by Brexit.
With a global vision, China and Britain can further expand their cooperation and make new contribution to world peace and development, said Liu.