Speech at Tsinghua University
by British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw
It was a Labor Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, who opened diplomatic relations between the UK and China in January 1950. We were the first Western country to recognize the People's Republic of China and the longevity of our relationship does give us both a strong basis from which to develop further our relations.
I am delighted that Hong Kong has prospered since 1997, and that "one country, two systems" is proving such an effective approach. As a signatory to the Joint Declaration, we will retain an interest in the well-being of the Special Administrative Region.
Our economic relationship has rarely been healthier. Britain is the leading European investor in China. Many Chinese enterprises now regard Britain’s flexible and open economy as an ideal launching pad into the wider European market. Our development aid programmer is set to double over the next five years and is focused on China's own priority region—the west.
But the most exciting changes have been in the links between British and Chinese peoples. Chinese communities have long existed in our cities. But today more and more British people are visiting China to see for themselves the dynamism of cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. And the best possible news for our future links is that tens of thousands of young Chinese are pursuing their education in Britain. This year Chinese students will be the largest group from outside the EU studying in Britain.
I am now pushing through a new strategy across the UK government to ensure that we broaden our relationship, and develop our mutual understanding on issues ranging from civil service reform and the environment to peacekeeping, science and law.
As permanent members of the UN Security Council, Britain and China are in a pivotal position to influence developments affecting every comer of the globe: increased cooperation on counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, conflict prevention and peacebuilding can help to build a secure international order out of the chaos of 11 September.
In recent years we have seen China emerge to fulfill its destiny as an influential participant in international counsels, I welcome China's international engagement as a member of the P512.1 believe the participation of Chinese civilian police alongside UK personnel in UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and East Timor is an important signal of its commitment to international order, and China’s recognition that we all operate in an interdependent world.
China’s status as an economic powerhouse will be confirmed within the next 20 to 30 years, as China becomes the world’s second or third largest economy. I believe the range of its global trading and investment interests will contribute to China's increasingly influential diplomatic and political role.