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Backgrounder: Sino-British Relations
2003/10/10


I. Political Relations

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland recognized the People's Republic of Chinain 1950. The two sides reached an agreement to exchange charges d'affaires on 17 June 1954and signed the Joint Communiqué on the Agreement on the Exchange of Ambassadors on 13 March 1972. In October 1979, Premier Hua Guofeng visited the UK, whereas Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher paid a visit to Chinain September 1982. Prime Minister Thatcher made her second visit to Chinain December 1984, during which the two governments signed The Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, thus ushering in a period of sound development in Sino-British relations, as evidenced by exchanges of important visits and many agreements signed for cooperation in various fields. On the Chinese side, the then Chinese Premier visited UKin June 1985, Hu Yaobang General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC paid a visit to UKin June 1986. On the British side Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II paid a state visit to Chinain October 1986. The bilateral relations, however, suffered a serious setback, resulting from the UK's sanctions against Chinaafter 1989. Prime Minister John Major's visit to China in 1991 led to the thawing of the bilateral relations, but which were at an all-time low when the British side came up with the political reform package in Hong Kong which contravened the Joint Declaration, the principle of convergence with the Basic Law and the agreements and understandings reached between the two sides. It was not until the latter half of year 1994 that any sign of improvement could be seen. When the Labour Party came into office in 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to take the transfer of government of Hong Kongas a new start to improve and develop comprehensive Sino-British relations. The ceremony for the transfer of government was launched on 30 June the same year. Ever since then, the bilateral relations have entered a new era of comprehensive development. In 1998, Premier Zhu Rongji and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdomexchanged successful visits, and the two countries issued the Joint Statement, announcing the establishment of the comprehensive partnership. In October 1999, at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, President Jiang Zemin paid a state visit to the UK, the first visit of its kind ever by China's head of state in the history of bilateral relations. The visit turned out to be a great success, and thus laid a significant foundation for the development of Sino-British relations in the new century. In August 2000, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Li Peng met with the Speaker of the House of Commons of the UK Betty Boothroyd in New Yorkat the Millennium Conference of Presiding Officer of National Parliaments. In October 2001, at the invitation of Prime Minister Blair, Vice President Hu Jintao paid an official visit to the UK. In May 2002, Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan visited the UKat the invitation of Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor. All these high level contacts gave further impetus to the development of bilateral relations. At present, close contacts and frequent exchange of visits at a high level are maintained between the two countries; and there is dynamic exchange and cooperation at all levels in the fields of politics, trade, economy, culture, and the military. In September 2002, Premier Zhu Rongji held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Blair when attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. Tang Jiaxuan,Minister of Foreign Affairs twice held bilateral meetings respectively in February and March, 2003with Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at the UN Security Council Special Meeting on Iraq.

Among other important visits paid by the Chinese leaders to the UK ever since the 1990s are those, by Vice Premier Zhu Rongji in November 1992, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in October 1995, Vice Premier Li Lanqing in November 1996, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Jiang Chunyun in June 1998, Vice Premier Wu Bangguo in January 2000, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Committee, State Councilor and Defense Minister Chi Haotian in January 2000, Vice Premier Wen Jiabao in June 2000, Foreign Minister Tang Jianxuan in January 2002.

Important visits paid by British leaders to China over the same period include those, among others, by Prime Minister John Major in September 1991, Deputy Prime Minster Heseltine in May 1996 , Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in July 1998, October 2000, July 2001 and May 2002, Lord Chancellor the Lord Irvine of Lairg in September 1999, Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd in September 1999, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in July 2002.

II. Trade Relations and Economic-Technological Cooperation

The bilateral trade volume has registered a steady growth in recent years.

UKis the second largest trade partner of Chinaamong EU countries. Statistics by the Chinese side show that in the year of 2002 the Sino-British trade volume reached US$11.34 billion, 10.6% higher than that of the same period of the previous year. By March 2003, the bilateral trade volume has totaled US$2.71 billion, 17.9% higher as compared with that of the same period of the previous year. Britain's actual investment in Chinacontinues to be the largest among the EU countries. By the end of 2002, the UKhas invested in 3406 projects in China, with a contracted amount of US$ 19.6 billion and an implemented input of about US$10.7 billion. The UKhas provided Chinawith four government loans since 1986, totaling 855 million pound (approximately US$1.37 billion). The Sino-British Economic and Trade Joint Committee was established in 1996, and three sessions have been held thereafter. The China-UK Investment Partnership was established in 2001. In November 2001, the Second Session of the China-UK Financial Dialogue was held in Beijing.

III. Exchange and Cooperation in the Fields of Culture, Science and Technology, Education and the Military

1. Cultural Exchange

The first Agreement on Educational and Cultural Cooperation between the Chinese and British Governments was signed in November 1979. In April 1999, the two governments signed Programs of Cultural Exchanges from 1999 to 2002. The two countries have experienced active cultural exchanges and frequent visits by art troupes in recent years. Performance teams from the China Symphony Orchestra and Central Nationalities Orchestra in 1998 and the gala night "Bravo

China" jointly sponsored by the China Central TV Station and Shanghai TV Station in August 2000 were well acclaimed in the UK. During the state visit to the UKby President Jiang Zemin in October 1999, the exhibition of unearthed relics masterpieces from ShannxiProvincewas held in the BritishMuseum. The artists from the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Academy of Music visited Chinarespectively in 1998, and the Britain's Royal Ballet visited Chinain May 1999. In 2000, the works by British Sculptor Henry Moore were on display in Chinafor the first time. Shandong Cultural Week was held in Londonin 2001. British Shared Experience Troupe played the Mill on the Floss and the Anglian Shakespeare Company presented one of the Shakespeare's masterpieces Macbeth in China. In July 2002, the two governments signed the Memorandum on the establishment of cultural centers in the two countries. In 2003, the UKhas launched Think UK in China, an initiative intended to provide more access to information about contemporary Britain, presenting a series of events between April and October, in four cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhouand Chongqing.

2. Exchange and Cooperation in Science and Technology

In addition to the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the two governments signed in November 1978, over 20 agreements or memorandums have been signed by relevant departments or institutions of the two countries ever since, covering such areas as basic research, environmental protection, health, agriculture, meteorology, space and aviation. The Amendment to the Protocol on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the two Governments was signed in September 1998. When British Prime Minister Tony Blair was on a visit in

Chinain October 1998, it was announced that the two governments should establish the China-UK Scientific and Technological Research Fund by jointly investing 600,000 pounds. In November 1999, the Chinese delegation of Science and Technology paid a visit to UK, during which the China-UK Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation resumed and minutes was signed, with the aim to propel the exchange and cooperation in the fields of science and technology between the two countries. China-UK High-tech Forum was held in Shanghaiin October 2002.

3. Educational Exchange and Cooperation

UK

is one of the earliest among European countries to join Chinain creating academic bonds. The Gansu Basic Education Program was launched in 1998, the Sino-British Conference of University Vice-Chancellors and Principals held yearly in Beijingor Londonsince 1997, CERNET (China Educational Research Network) and JANET (Britain's Joint Academic Network) were joined together in 1998. In addition, around 110 to 150 British volunteers come to teach in less developed areas of Chinaevery year. Up till now, around 50,000 Chinese students are studying in Britain, while 1061 British students are here in Chinafor study. Programs established separately by the two countries are devoted to Sino-British Scholarship exchanges, British Scholarship for Chinaadministered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Fund. In July 1999, the Chinese delegation led by Minister of Education Chen Zhili visited the UK, during which the two sides signed the Joint Statement on Educational Cooperation. During the visit by the British Secretary of State for Education and Employment David Blunkett in June 2000, the two sides signed the China-UK Framework Agreement on Educational Cooperation. In February 2003, Margaret Horg, the UK Sectary of State for Education, paid a visit to Chinaand signed The Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees in Higher Education between the Government of the People's Republic of Chinaand the Government and the Devolved Administrations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with her Chinese counterpart.

4. Military Exchange

China

and the UKexchanged military attaches at the end of 1972. The British Chief of the Defense Staff Nell Cameron paid an official goodwill visit to Chinain April 1978 at the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Defence. The Chinese Minister of Defence Zhang Aiping visited the UKin September 1986 and signed officially with the British Secretary of State for Defence the Understanding Memorandum on Co-operation on Defense Equipment between the People's Republic of Chinaand the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Since then, Assistant Chief of the Defense Staff, Chief of Defense Intelligence, Chief of the Defense Staff Field Marshal Peter Inge visited Chinarespectively in 1996. Other main visits to China on the British part include those by Vice Admiral McNally, commandant of the Royal College of Defense Studies in September 1998, Admiral Michael Boyce, the First Sea Lord in March 1999, General Charles Guthie, Chief of the Defense Staff in October 1999, British Defense Secretary Hoon in June 2000, Admiral Nigel Essenhigh, Chief of Navy Staff, First Sea Lord, Marshal Sir Peter Squire, Chief of the air Staff, Commodore Mark Kerr of the Royal Naval College in 2001 and General Sir Michael Walker, Chief of the General Staff in 2002. British Missile Escorter Cornwall and Destroyer New Castle visited Shanghaiand Qindao in 2000.

Other main visits on the Chinese part include those by Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army Fu Quanyou in March 1997, Air Force Commander Liu Shunyao in March 1999, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Committee, State Councilor and Defense Minister Chi Haotian in January 2000, Navy Commander Shi Yunsheng in April 2000, Director of Armament Department of People's Liberation Army Cao Gangchuan in June 2000, Director of General Logistics of the People's Liberation Army Wang Ke in 2001 and Deputy Chief of the General Staff Xiong Guangkai in May 2002. The flotilla of the Chinese navy made its first voyage to

UKin September 2001. Destroyer "Liverpool" of the UK Royal Navy visited Shanghaiin May, 2003.

IV. List of Major Bilateral Agreements and Other Documents

1. Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1978)

2. Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1979)

3. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Relating to Civil Air Transport (1979)

4. Agreement on Educational and Cultural Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1979)

5. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Establishment of a Chinese Consulate- General at Manchester and a British Consulate- General at Shanghai (1984)

6. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Reciprocal Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Tax on Income and Capital Gains (1984)

7. Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong (1984)

8. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the Settlement of Mutual Historical Property Claims (1987)

9. Memorandum on Arrangements for Concessional Lending between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1988)

10. Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Construction of the New Airport in

Hong Kongand Related Questions (1991)

11. Agreement on Maritime Transport between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1996)

12. Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Reciprocal Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Tax on Income and Capital Gains (1996)

13. Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Securities and Futures Regulatory Cooperation between China Securities Regulatory Commission and H.M. Treasury, Securities and Investment Board of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1996)

14. Joint Statement between the People's Republic of

Chinaand the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1998)

15. Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Protection between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1998)

16. Memorandum of Understanding between the Chinese and British Air Aviation Authorities (1998)

17. Joint Statement of China-UK Financial Dialogue (1998)

18. Program of Cultural Exchanges in between 1999 to 2002 (1999)

19. Joint Statement on Educational Cooperation (1999)

20. Memorandum of Understanding on Judicial Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1999).

21. Framework Agreement on Educational Cooperation between the People's Republic of

Chinaand the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ( 2000).

22. Agreement on Cooperation between

ChinaImport and Export Bank and BritainExport Credit Guarantee Bureau (2000).

23. Memorandum between the Government of the People's Republic of Chinaand the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Concerning the Reciprocal Establishment of Cultural Centres (2002)

24. The Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees in Higher Education Between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2003)

Attachment

CHINA/UK JOINT STATEMENT

The Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Zhu Rongji, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mr. Tony Blair, held talks in Beijing on 6 October 1998. They exchanged views on bilateral relations and international issues of common concern in a friendly atmosphere and issued the following joint statement.

China

and the United Kingdom, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, share extensive international interests and responsibilities. The two countries will step up cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally including within the framework of the UN for the maintenance of world peace and security.

The two Governments welcome the positive development of bilateral relations during recent years, and particularly since the successful handover in

Hong Kong. Both sides consider that the time is right for the opening of a new chapter in relations between Chinaand the United Kingdom. They agree to expand political, economic, cultural and technological links. In this context, it is agreed that President Jiang Zeming should pay a State Visit to UKat the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the second half of 1999.

The two sides note that the Joint Declaration of 1984 and the successful handover in

Hong Kongin 1997 were historic achievements. The peaceful resolution of the question of Hong Kongis something in which the people of both countries, and especially the people of Hong Kong, can take pride. Both sides reiterate that the implementation of the Joint Declaration and the principles of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kongpeople administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy will ensure the maintenance of the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

The two sides note that growing economic ties and trade between

Chinaand UKare not only of mutual benefit, but also serve to enhance overall cooperation and understanding. They agree on the need to put new energy into the bilateral economic relationship and trade through enhanced business promotion activities and improved market access, matching the skills and needs of the two economies. They agree to take positive measures to expand bilateral trade and investment. They note with satisfaction both the launch of the restyled China Britain Business Council and the continued high level of UKinvestment in China.

Both sides reaffirm their commitment to continue working for China's entry to the World Trade Organization on terms which will reinforce the world trading system on the principle of balancing rights and obligations. Both sides agree to explore options for practical cooperation in support of this.

The two sides note the growing global interdependence of national economies and financial structures. In this context, they will strengthen the China/UK Financial Dialogue, conduct regular exchanges on strategic economic and financial issues and foster wider regional and global discussion of these issues, with the aim of ensuring a stable environment for development.

While recognizing that the social and economic context in the two countries is different, both sides are committed to meeting the continuing challenges of modernization. Through an expanding programme of development cooperation, they will strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the following areas: the development and restructuring of State-owned enterprises; the provision of training and small business creation for unemployed workers; the provision of financial sector training, including in the field of regulation; poverty elimination and promotion of development of the interior provinces.

Both sides note the vital importance of protecting the environment at the national and global levels and, in particular, addressing the issue of climate change. They agree that the developed countries have a responsibility to set an example in this area. At the same time, it is noted with appreciation that China is intensifying efforts to address the environmental challenges it faces. China and UK also share concerns about more local environmental issues, particularly in relation to water resources.

Both sides agree to strengthen environmental cooperation. This will embrace practical cooperation, including scientific exchanges as well as informal dialogue. Both sides agree that UK should work particularly closely with China as a Partner country. Future China/UK cooperation on the environment will build on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in June 1998.

The two sides will strengthen and expand their political/military dialogue. In addition to annual senior official-level talks, they will pursue a programme of senior military visits, including ministerial-level exchanges.

Both sides welcome the development of practical exchanges between police forces in China and in UK, which have served to promote the interests of justice and to protect the victims of crime. China and UK will work to strengthen cooperation aimed at tackling international crime.

The two sides note with satisfaction the growing range and volume of contacts between the Chinese and British people. They will work to increase the number of focused parliamentary, academic, scientific and professional exchanges.

Both sides believe that the China/UK Forum, launched by the two Heads of Governments, will play an important part in providing a clear focus for non-Government high-level contacts between China and UK and ensuring that the development of such contacts contributes positively to the overall bilateral relationship.

Both sides note that cultural and artistic contacts will help to strengthen understanding and awareness between China and UK and to provide a positive atmosphere for bilateral cooperation. They welcome the Britain in China initiative as a means of promoting cultural as well as commercial activities. They will explore options and ways to further expand the above-mentioned exchanges and cooperation in both countries. They welcome the China/UK sports authorities' protocol providing for practical cooperation. They note the value of sporting links in building bridges between the two countries, and particularly between their young people.

The two sides welcome the positive progress of Asia-Europe cooperation in recent years and the establishment of a long-term, stable and constructive China-Europe partnership oriented towards the 21st century. The establishment of friendly relations of equality and mutual benefit between Asia and Europe and between China and Europe benefits not only the interests of the two sides but also the interests of world peace and stability. The two sides consider that increased bilateral political consultations, including dialogue on human rights, help to broaden mutual understanding. They welcome the resumption of human rights dialogue between China and the European Union and the commencement of such dialogue between China and UK in 1997. Despite the differences between them, the two sides note the achievements in these processes so far, both in practical progress and enhanced mutual understanding. They agree to continue their constructive dialogue and to conduct judicial exchanges and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

The two sides stress their commitment to non-proliferation, and full support for Security Council Resolution No 1172. As parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, the two countries will continue their commitment to the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles, and will step up bilateral and international cooperation to this end. The two sides are ready to make continued efforts to bring about universal accession to and effective compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. They support the efforts to strengthen the efficacy of the Biological Weapons Convention and express opposition to the weaponization of outer space.

The two sides agree that the above statement should form the framework for an enhanced, comprehensive China/UK partnership. Both sides look forward to developing to the full the opportunities offered by such a partnership, and to working together to address the shared challenges of the new millennium.

 

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