Interview: British-China Golden-Era commitment steadfast: ambassador

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-31 18:36:15|Editor: Lu Hui
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British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 31, 2018. Theresa May is scheduled to visit China from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)

by Xinhua writer Han Liang

BEIJING, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Britain has kept a steadfast and steady commitment to the Golden-Era partnership with China, British ambassador to China has said ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to the Asian country on Wednesday.

"We went (through) a lot of shifts around the world since our decision to leave the EU (European Union), but I would say our commitment to the Golden-Era partnership with China has remained constant, steadfast and steady," Barbara Woodward told Chinese media.

"The good thing about the Golden-Era partnership is that it is flexible and adaptable," Woodward said, adding that it is also future-oriented and has a global feature.

In October 2015, the two countries agreed to embrace a "Golden Era" for bilateral relations during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Britain.

May's official visit to China, the first since she took office in 2016, will push forward this strategic partnership, Woodward noted.

May, who kicked off her three-day visit to China in the city of Wuhan on Wednesday, is accompanied by leaders of over 50 British business and commercial organizations.

Woodward said May is seeking a "more ambitious" trading relationship with China, the world's second-largest economy.

Meanwhile, May's visit seeks to accommodate the two countries' development strategies, further strengthen cooperation in such fields as finance, education, food, health, medicine, life science, among others, Woodward added.

The ambassador said that Britain's exit from the EU means that the nation will be free to make its own decisions about its trade and investment partnerships.

She further hailed bilateral trade relations, citing numbers to say that British exports to China have grown by 60 percent since 2010, and two-way trade grew 30 percent year-on-year in 2017.

Britain is pleased with the healthy state of this relationship and is excited about the opportunities ahead as China is committed to further open up its market, Woodward added.

May's trip follows French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit to China earlier this month, showing that both countries are eager to improve their ties with China in a time of surging uncertainties.

Britain celebrated Macron's "successful" visit to China and wanted to make sure that "France and Britain are doing equally well in their own areas of strength in their relationship with China," said Woodward.

Calling the pair "friendly competitors" in this field, she also suggested that the bilateral ties should be put into a larger picture.

Europe as a whole remains a "strong center of gravity" in world affairs and an important pole of a multi-polar world with its culture, history, military and economic offering, Woodward said.

"So if Europe has a good relationship with China, that actually stabilizes the world and enables prosperity," she added.

May, ahead of her China visit, told media that she expected the country to play a "huge role" in the economic development of the world. Echoing this, Woodward said that Britain and China will enhance their cooperation in sustainable development, green finance and climate change among others, to make sure the global economy continues to grow and benefit citizens around the world.

Refuting some media reports that Britain had an "ambiguous" attitude toward the Belt and Road Initiative, Woodward made it clear that Britain is eyeing closer cooperation with China.

Woodward said Britain was especially keen to work on the initiative in three ways.

First, British companies are keen to foster partnerships with Chinese companies and take them to third countries along the Belt and Road.

Second, Britain would like to bring some of London's financing experience to help create a solid financial and legal footing for big projects.

Third, Britain would like to share its experience of international engagement and multilateral organizations as the Belt and Road spreads out, so as to maintain high operational standards.

Woodward also said Britain and China are proposing a bilateral investment fund with a first round of 1.3 billion U.S. dollars to create jobs, promote trade and support the initiative.

A British special envoy for the Belt and Road Initiative will be named and a council of senior business leaders set up in Britain to help realize the fund, she added.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to achieve infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.


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KEY WORDS: Britain-China