On January 14, the Chinese Embassy in the UK held a briefing on Sino-UK relations. Nearly 30 senior reporters, editors and presenters from BBC, Financial Times, The Times, The Economists, Reuter,Sky News, Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, China News Service, China Radio International, Tak Kung Pao, Sing Tao Daily and Taiwan China Times and local Chinese media attended.
Counsellor Zhang Lirong and Counsellor Liu Weimin of the Chinese Embassy first introduced current situation and opportunities for Sino-UK relations. They denoted that both China and UK are undergoing extensive and profound changes. The areas where our interests meet are continuously expanding and the bilateral relations are growing on solid social and popular basis. The development of Sino-UK relations is facing new opportunities. UK sees China's development as opportunity and China considers UK an important partner. Both sides agree that current Sino-UK relations are best ever in the history. The good relationship is mainly reflected in the following five aspects:
Firstly, extensive high level contacts. The two countries have established mechanisms of annual meetings between heads of the two governments, the interactive task force for bilateral relationship, and strategic dialogue. Their dialogues and consultation cover politics, foreign affairs, finance, trade and economy, sustainable development, energy and climate change, education and technology.
Secondly, frequent consultation on international issues. The two countries keep close communication and consultation on Iran, Darfur, Kosovo, Burma, Middle East and Africa.
Thirdly, steady growth of bilateral trade and investment. In recent years, growth rate of bilateral trade has been over 20% and is expected to reach US$37 billion in 2007. The US$40-billion goal set by the leaders of the two countries would be reached by 2008, 2 years ahead of 2010. The two economies are strongly complementary and have great potentials in economic and trade cooperation. The service and technology trade will probably become new bright prospects.
Fourthly, active cultural exchanges. "China Fever" is getting continuously prevalent in UK and all walks of life in UK are keen to know more about China. The Exhibition of First Emperor: China's TerraCotta Army, "China in London" and "China Now" are held by the UK side one after another. Beijing and London will hold the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012 respectively, which will greatly promote cultural, sports and personnel exchanges between the two countries.
Fifthly, deepening cooperation in education, science and technology. At present, there are nearly 100,000 overseas Chinese students and 11 Confucius Institutes in UK. More than 300 UK schools have Chinese courses. The enthusiasm of Chinese public to learn English is increasing daily. The practical cooperation in science, technology and sustainable development is being continuously strengthened.
The two Counsellors introduced that British Prime Minister Brown will visit China shortly. It is his first official visit to China since taking office. He is also the first EU leader that the Chinese government receives in 2008. His visit is of significance to Sino-UK and Sino-Europe relations. Both sides attach great importance to this visit, and are making meticulous preparations so as to make it a success. During the visit, the two leaders will exchange opinions on bilateral and international issues of common concern, attend the UK- China Business Summit; attend Townhall Dialogue with general public. The visit by the Prime Minister to China will surely push the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Britain to a new height.
The two Counsellors introduced the large-scale "China Now" event initiated by UK business circle. They denoted that with the support of the two leaders, this event will surely enhance the UK public's understanding of Charming modern China.
The two Counsellors also took questions ranging from bilateral relations to international issues. The participants highly evaluated the briefing and thought it would facilitate their grasp of Sino-UK relations and the results of Brown's visit to China.