China-UK Summit: Partners for Growth

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has departed today (Friday June 24) for a scheduled visit starting in Hungary, and including the United Kingdom and Germany. Analysts have noted that the support of China in buying up European debt has played an important role in the euro currency holding its own and not depreciating despite economic instability of some member countries. This assistance from China has its own agenda, however, being that of increasing the international influence of the yuan (renminbi) and facilitating a gradual appreciation of its currency. It is thought to be most likely that Wen Jiabao will confirm China’s support for the EU, especially in light of the fact that the EU is China’s largest export market, and the health of the economy of EU member countries is vital to China’s economic growth prospects.

Included in the program of Premier Wen Jiabao is the United Kingdom-China Summit on June 25 to June 27. This is an annual summit in which the heads of the two countries – Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister David Cameron – and other officials, meet to discuss matters of mutual interest with the emphasis on trade between China and the United Kingdom. The two leaders last met in November 2010, when Prime Minister Cameron visited China for the first time. During that visit, with meetings taking place in Beijing, in addition to addressing matters relating to trade, the United Kingdom leader presented a number of new agreements focused on education, climate change and counter-proliferation – reviewing intelligence, diplomatic and military efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons.

Premier Wen Jiabao will be accompanied by a number of senior Chinese officials, with the goal of continuing on the “Partner for Growth” direction agreed on in Beijing last year. This includes strengthening bilateral relations, as well as promoting mutual understanding and broader cooperation. Global issues of interest to both China and the United Kingdom will also be on the agenda.

A recent study by the World Bank placed the United Kingdom as fourth on a list of ideal places for setting up and running a business. The top three are Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Moreover, London is widely regarded as the most important financial center in the world, with a host of foreign banks being represented there. Another common goal of both countries is to make inroads into Africa, which they are already doing with trilateral agreements on projects in Tanzania and the Congo. It was noted in a press release by political counselor of the British Embassy in Beijing, Dan Chugg, that there are more Chinese youth studying at educational institutions in the United Kingdom than in any other foreign country. He also noted that there a large number Confucius Institutes in the UK, with an increasing number of UK universities being established in China.