David Cameron in China: what is PM hoping to achieve?
The Prime Minister has arrived in Beijing in a bid to boost trade and make amends for previous spats
THE Prime Minister pledged to act as China's strongest advocate in the West as he arrived in Beijing today on a trade mission with more than 100 UK business leaders. David Cameron, who has only visited China on one other occasion since taking office in May 2010, met with Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of the People today and will also travel to Shanghai and Chengdu this week. So what is he hoping to achieve?
- Business boost: The focus of the trip is to boost trade relations between China and the UK, with the focus on sectors such as food, engineering and retail. His delegation includes executives from major exporters such as Rolls-Royce, BP and GlaxoSmithKline but the bulk of the party comes from small businesses, such as Westaway Sausages of Devon and Moulton Bicycles.
- Infrastructure investment: Li says China wants to increase its investment in British infrastructure, including the HS2 high speed rail line and more nuclear power projects, reports Bloomberg.
- EU trade with China: Cameron has pledged to put his "full political weight" behind a proposed EU-China trade agreement, which aims to boost bilateral trade to $1 trillion by 2020. He believes the EU deal could be worth £1.8bn for the UK alone and wants to tear down the "bamboo curtain of trade barriers". As part of the deal, Cameron has called for tariffs to be reduced on 20 key sectors, including vehicles and pharmaceuticals, which altogether account for 36 per cent of UK exports to China.
- Overcome diplomatic spats: Cameron's last trip to China was marred by his refusal to remove a poppy from his lapel despite a Chinese request. The flower has a different meaning in China, which lost two opium wars with Britain in the 19th century. Then last year China said Cameron "seriously damaged" relations by meeting the Dalai Lama. Cameron has said he wants to move on from these diplomatic difficulties.
- Human rights dialogue: Cameron has said there is "nothing off limits" in Britain's human rights dialogue with China, although he refused to comment to reporters today on the issue of Tibet. He said he has been talking to Li about hosting a "human rights dialogue" next year.
- Chinese football development: Culture secretary Maria Miller, who is accompanying the prime minister, will announce an agreement between the Premier League and the Chinese Super League to build up elite football at community level.
- Science funding: Li and Cameron also announced today that they had agreed a £200m research fund aiming to foster scientific collaborations between the two countries.