LONDON – UK PM avid Cameron has said China provides a “huge opportunity” for British business as he announced £1.4bn of trade agreements between the two countries. After meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for talks, Cameron hailed what he said was a “deeper dialogue”. But he said political and economic progress must go hand in hand as respect for human rights was “the best guarantor” of prosperity and stability, the BBc informs. Wen urged co-operation and dialogue over the issue, not “finger-pointing”.
During talks in Downing Street, the two leaders signed bilateral trade agreements worth £1.4bn and restated their desire to double the value of two-way trade between the countries by 2015. UK companies are to get greater access to Chinese markets in architecture, civil engineering and research and development while a ban on British poultry exports to China in place since a case of avian flu in 2007 is being lifted and more British pigs and pig meat are to be sold to China.
British exports have increased by 20 per cent since Cameron led a major business delegation to Beijing last November and No 10 hopes to see an agreement to enable British business to branch out beyond Beijing and Shanghai into fast-growing regional cities.
While stressing that China and the UK were “different countries with different histories”, Cameron said the development of civil society and freedom of expression and respect for human rights “underpins stability and prosperity for us all”.
Wen Jiabao faced a small protest about China’s human rights record during a visit to the MG car plant on Sunday.
He told a news conference in London: “On human rights, China and the UK should respect each other, respect the facts, treat each other as equals, engage in more co-operation than finger-pointing and resolve our differences through dialogue,” he said.
The UK government was said to have been encouraged by the recent release from custody of artist Ai Wei Wei and other dissidents but wanted the Chinese authorities to do more to allow freedom of expression.