Chinese vice premier visits Britain to boost ties

9th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Scotland on Sunday at the start of a four-day trip to Britain aimed at boosting political and trade ties between the two countries.

The visit will see Li, widely tipped to be China's next premier, hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and visit several businesses but it is also likely to be shadowed by rights issues.

Li, who is on a European tour which has already taken in Spain and Germany, is coming to Britain just two months after Cameron visited China with a team of his top ministers and business chiefs.

After his arrival in Edinburgh on Sunday, the Chinese official is due to hold talks with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond followed by meetings with ministers and business leaders.

The agenda is to focus on Scotland's renewable and low carbon energy industry and the delegation will visit a wave power station in the Scottish capital, the Scottish government said.

Cameron will welcome Li at his Downing Street office in London on Monday and the Chinese oficial will also give a speech to a China-British Business Council event attended by top e businessmen from both countries.

Salmond, who has led several trade missions to China in the past two years, said it was important to "advance our relationship" with Beijing.

"I am delighted that the Vice Premier will begin his state visit in Edinburgh and will learn more about Scotland's rapidly growing renewable energy sector," he said in a statement.

"China already has the largest deployment of on-shore renewable technology, and Scotland is a world-leader in pioneering the technology and application of clean, green off-shore energy."

The Chinese ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, said ahead of the visit that ties between Britain and China were "flourishing", the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"The new British government has continued to pursue a positive China policy, and Sino-British relations have achieved a smooth transition and sustainable development," it quoted Liu as saying.

Bilateral trade between the two countries reached a record 40.2 billion dollars (31.1 billion euros) between January and October 2010, an increase of 30 percent on the same period in 2009, he said.

Cameron said earlier in the week that "stronger relations with China offered a real opportunity for Britain in terms of trade, jobs, and economic growth."

"Vice-Premier Li's visit to the UK will build on the momentum created by my visit to China last year."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is also due to meet Li, said the talks would focus on "everything from trade and investment to climate change and educational links".

He added: "No subject will be off limits."

On his trip to Beijing Cameron was understood to have privately raised the case of jailed dissident and Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo with Premier Wen Jiabao and also urged "greater political opening" on human rights in China.

Li's trips to Germany and Spain have focused on business.

In Berlin, Li said China and Germany, the world's top two exporters, should deepen their economic cooperation both in traditional areas such as machinery and cars but also in low-carbon technologies and energy efficient industry.

While in Madrid Li said Beijing was willing to buy around six billion euros worth of Spanish debt, daily El Pais quoted government sources as saying.

After eurozone members Greece and Ireland were forced to seek bailouts worth tens of billions of euros last year, Spain, together with Portugal, have been seen as next in line in the 17-country currency union to need help.

© 2011 AFP

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