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Thursday, October 15, 2015, 09:19

Xi to herald 'golden decade' for Sino-UK relations: Blair

By Ji Tao and Zhang Chun Yan in London

President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United Kingdom next week will usher in a "golden decade" and a new dimension for cooperation, former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday.

"It's possible to get to an even higher and increased level of cooperation, not just economically but politically," Blair told China Daily in London.

His comments came ahead of Xi's visit from Oct 19 to 23, the first state visit by a Chinese president to the UK in 10 years.

Xi to herald 'golden decade' for Sino-UK relations: Blair Blair, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, stressed China's global role, saying: "How China develops its role in the world has massive implications for everyone today. There is no big global problem that can be sorted without China."

Reports have said that business cooperation including nuclear and high-speed rail projects will be key topics to be discussed between China and Britain during Xi's visit.

Blair said, "The UK needs major infrastructure investment in nuclear power and rail construction, and China has the expertise in both and the capital to deploy.

"For Britain, nuclear power is very important for the energy mix. We need to make sure that we have diversity of supply. ... We want to keep this going, but again it's a big investment for the future. China is going to be our partner in this, along with France."

In September, during a visit to China, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne emphasized Sino-British cooperation on nuclear power and high-speed railways and said Britain would become China's "best partner in the West".

Blair said, "Britain really has the opportunity to become the best western partner for China. We want to do this ... we have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is important."

In terms of trade and investment, Blair said the UK-China relationship is incredibly important.

China is Britain's fourth-largest trading partner, while Britain is China's second-largest trading partner in the European Union.

Blair also said the two countries share views in many areas, including climate change and combating terrorism.

He said the UK is enthusiastic about further development with China to ensure that the next 10 years are a "golden decade".

Blair said that in the 10 years he was prime minister, he put a great deal of emphasis on establishing a strong relationship with China.

Fu Xiaolan, director of the Technology and Management for Development Center at Oxford University, said, "The golden era embodies the two countries' current strengths and common interests."

Where the two countries complement each other, China and the UK can realize a strong union and become good partners, she said, adding that both governments take positive and pragmatic approaches to cooperating.

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