Beijing
Backgrounder: China and the United Kingdom
Xinhuanet 2003-07-16 00:18


  I. Political Relations

  The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland recognized the People's Republic of China in 1950. The two sides reached an agreement to exchange charges d'affaires on 17 June 1954 and signed the Joint Communiqu└ on the Agreement on an Exchange of Ambassadors on 13 March 1972. In October 1979, Premier Hua Guofeng visited UK, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited China in September 1982. During Prime Minister Thatcher¨s second visit to China in December 1984, the two governments signed The Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, which ushered in a period of sound development in Sino-British relations, as evidenced by important two-way visits and many agreements signed for cooperation in various fields, including the sucessive high level visits to UK by the then Premier of Chinese Government in June 1985, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Hu Yaobang in June 1986. From the British side Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II paid state visit to China in October 1986. However, the bilateral relations suffered serious setback resulted from UK sanctions against China after 1989. The relations, thawed by Prime Minister John Major¨s visit to China in 1991, fell into another new low after the British side pushed forward the political reform package in Hong Kong which contravened the Joint Declaration, the principle of convergence with the Basic Law and the agreements and understandings reached between the two sides. It was not until the latter half of year 1994 that any sign of improvement could be seen. When the Labour Party came into office in 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to take the handover of Hong Kong as a new start to improve and develop a comprehensive Sino-British relations. The Hong Kong handover cermony was held on 30 June the same year. Ever since then, the bilateral relations have entered a new ear of comprehensive development. In 1998, Premier Zhu Rongji and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom exchanged successful visits, and issued the China-UK Joint Statement which announced the establishment of the comprehensive partnership between the two countries. In October 1999, at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, President Jiang Zemin paid the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to UK, which turned out to be a great success. The visit laid a significant foundation for the development of Sino-British relations in the new century. In August 2000, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People¨s Congress Li Peng met Speaker of the House of Commons of UK Betty Boothroyd in New York at the Millenium Conference of Presiding Officer of National Parliaments. In October 2001, at the invitation of Prime Minister Blair, Vice President Hu Jintao paid an official visit to UK. In May 2002, Chairman of Chinese People¨s Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan visited UK at the invitation of Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor. All these high level contacts further promoted the development of bilateral relations. Sino-British relations are now enjoying consistent sound and steady development, which are characterized with close contacts and frequent exchange of visits at high level and dynamic exchange and cooperation at all levels in fields of politics, trade, economy, culture, and military. In September 2002, Premier Zhu Rongji held bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Blair when attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

  The 1970s and 1980s witnessed successive visits to UK by Chinese Premiers and the General-Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee as well as visits to China by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and two British Prime Ministers. Main visits paid by the Chinese leaders to UK ever since the 1990s include those by Vice Premier Zhu Rongji in November 1992, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in October 1995, Vice Premier Li Lanqing in November 1996, Premier Zhu Rongji in April 1998, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Jiang Chunyun in June 1998, President Jiang Zemin in October 1999, Vice Premier Wu Bangguo in January 2000, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Committee, State Councilor and Defense Minister Chi Haotian in January 2000 and Vice Premier Wen Jiabao in June 2000, Foreign Minister Tang Jianxuan in January 2002, and etc.

  Main visits paid by British leaders to China over the same period include those by Prime Minister John Major in September 1991, Deputy Prime Minster Heseltine in May 1996 , Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in July 1998, October 2000, July 2001 and May 2002, Prime Minister Tony Blair in October 1998, Lord Chancellor the Lord Irvine of Lairg in September 1999, Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd in September 1999. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in July 2002, and etc. In addition, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Li Peng met Speaker of the House of Commons of UK Betty Boothroyd in August 2000 in New York at the Millenium Conference of Presiding Officer of National Parliaments.

  In July 2001, Deputy Prime Minister Prescott came to china for consultation on global climate changes. In October 2001, Vice President Hu Jintao paid an official visit to UK at the invitation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.


  II. Trade Relations and Economic-Technological Cooperation

  UK is one of the main trade partners of China in western Europe, which has been illustrated by a continuous growth of bilateral trade volume in recent years. UK has been the second largest trade partner of China among EU countries. Statistics by the Chinese side show that in the year of 2001 the Sino-British trade volume reached US$10.31 billion, 4.1% higher than that of the same period of previous year. By July 2002, bilateral trade volume approximate US$6.17 billion, 8.2% higher than that of the same period of last year. British actual investment in China has been the largest among the EU countries. By June 2002, UK has invested 3233 projects in China, with a real input of about US$10.4 Billion. UK has provided China four government loans since 1986, totaling 855 million pound (approximately US$1.37 billion). Sino-British Economic and Trade Joint Committee was established in 1996, and three sessions have been held. China-UK Investment Partnership was established in 2001. In November 2001, the Second Session of China-UK Financial Dialogue was held in Beijing.


  III. Exchanges and Cooperation in the Fields of Culture, Science and Technology, Education and Military

  1. Cultural Exchanges

  The first Agreement on Educational and Cultural Cooperation between the Chinese and British Governments was signed in November 1979. In April 1999, the two governments signed Programs of Cultural Exchanges from 1999 to 2002. The two countries have experienced active cultural exchanges and frequent visits by art troupes in recent years. Performance teams from China Symphony Orchestra and Central Nationalities Orchestra in 1998 and the gala night ^Bravo China ̄ jointly sponsored by China Central TV Station and Shanghai TV Station in August 2000 were well-received in UK. During the state visit to UK by President Jiang Zemin in October 1999, the exhibition Buried Treasures, Masterpieces from Shannxi Province was held in British Museum. The artists from Royal National Theatre and Royal Academy of Music visited China respectively in 1998, and the Britain¨s Royal Ballet visited China in May 1999. In 2000, the exhibition of British Sculptor Henry Moore¨s work was held in Beijing for the first time. Shandong Cultural Week was held in London in 2001. British Share the Experience Troupe played the Mill on the Floss and the Anglian Shakespear Company presented one of the Shakespear¨s masterpieces Mecbeth in China. In July 2002, the two governments signed Memorandum concerning the reciprocal establishment of cultural centres.

  2. Exchanges and Cooperation in Science and Technology

  In addition to the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the two governments signed in November 1978, over 20 agreements or memorandums have been signed by relevant departments or institutions of the two countries ever since, covering such fields as basic research, environmental protection, health, agriculture, meteorology, space and aviation. The Amendment to the Protocol on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the two Governments was signed in September 1998. When the British Prime Minister Tony Blair was visiting China in October 1998, an announcement was made that the two governments would invest 600,000 pounds to establish the China-UK Scientific and Technological Research Fund. In November 1999, the Chinese delegation of Science and Technology paid a visit to UK, during which the China-UK Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation resumed and minutes was signed, with the aim to promote the exchange and cooperation in the fields of science and technology between the two countries.

  3. Educational Exchanges and Cooperation

  UK is one of the earliest among European countries to join China in creating academic bonds. The Gansu Basic Education Program was initiated in 1998, the Sino-British Conference of University Vice-Chancellors and Principals held yearly in Beijing or London since 1997, CERNET (China Educational Research Network) and JANET (Britain's Joint Academic Network) was linked in 1998. In addition, around 110 to 150 British volunteers come to teach in less developed areas of China every year. Statistics indicated that over 23,000 Chinese students have studied in Britain since 1978 with about 10,000 in 2000. As the other way around, 5454 British students have studied in China since 1980 with 699 in 2001. Programs under implementation are Sino-British Scholarship exchanges, British Chevening Scholarship Scheme for China administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Fund Scheme. In July 1999, the Chinese delegation led by Minister of Education Chen Zhili visited UK during which the two sides signed the Joint Statement on Educational Cooperation. During the visit by British Secretary of state for Education and Employment David Blunkett in June 2000, the two sides signed the China-UK Framework Agreement on Educational Cooperation.

  4. Military Exchanges

  China and UK exchanged military attaches at the end of 1972. The British Chief of the Defense Staff Nell Cameron paid an official goodwill visit to China in April 1978 at the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Defense. The Chinese Minister of Defense Zhang Aiping visited UK in September 1986 and signed officially with the British Secretary of State for Defense the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation on Defense Equipment between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Since then, Assistant Chief of the Defense Staff, Chief of Defense Intelligence, Chief of the Defense Staff Field Marshal Peter Inge visited China successively in 1996. Other main visits to China on the British part include those by Vice Admiral McNally, commandant of the Royal College of Defense Studies in September 1998, Admiral Michael Boyce, the First Sea Lord in March 1999, General Charles Guthie, Chief of the Defense Staff in October 1999, British Defense Secretary Hoon in June 2000, Admiral Nigel Essenhigh, Chief of Navy Staff and First Sea Lord, Marshal Sir Peter Squire, Chief of the air Staff and Commodore Mark Kerr of the Royal Naval College in 2001 and General Sir Michael Walker, Chief of the General Staff in 2002. British Missile Escorter Cornwall and Destroyer New Castle visited Shanghai and Qindao in 2000.

  Other main visits on the Chinese part include those by Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army Fu Quanyou in March 1997, Air Force Commander Liu Shunyao in March 1999, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Committee, State Councilor and Defense Minister Chi Haotian in January 2000, Navy Commander Shi Yunsheng in April 2000, Director of Armament Department of People¨s Liberation Army Cao Gangchuan in June 2000 and Director of General Logistics of the People¨s Liberation Army Wang Ke in 2001 and Deputy Clief of the General Staff Xiong Guangkai in May 2002. The Chinese Navy fleet paid its first visit to UK in September 2001.


  IV. List of Important Bilateral Agreements and Documents

  1. Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1978)

  2. Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1979)

  3. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Relating to Civil Air Transport (1979)

  4. Agreement on Educational and Cultural Cooperation between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1979)

  5. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Establishment of a Chinese Consulate- General at Manchester and a British Consulate- General at Shanghai (1984)

  6. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Reciprocal Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Tax on Income and Capital Gains (1984)

  7. Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong (1984)

  8. Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the Settlement of Mutual Historical Property Claims (1987)

  9. Memorandum on Arrangements for Concessional Lending between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1988)

  10. Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Construction of the New Airport in Hong Kong and Related Questions (1991)

  11. Agreement on Maritime Transport between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1996)

  12. Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Reciprocal Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Tax on Income and Capital Gains (1996)

  13. Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Securities and Futures Regulatory Cooperation between China Securities Regulatory Commission and H.M. Treasury, Securities and Investment Board of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1996)

  14. Joint Statement between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1998)

  15. Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Protection between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1998)

  16. Memorandum of Understanding between the Chinese and British Aeronautical Authorities (1998)

  17. Joint Statement of China-UK Financial Dialogue (1998)

  18. Program of Cultural Exchanges from 1999 to 2002 (1999)

  19. Joint Statement on Educational Cooperation (1999)

  20. Memorandum of Understanding on Judicial Cooperation  between  the  Government  of  the  People's Republic  of  China  and  the  Government of  the  United  Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and Northern  Ireland(1999).

  21. Framework Agreement on Educational Cooperation between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ( 2000).

  22. Agreement on Cooperation between China Import and Export Bank and Britain Export Credit Guarantee Bureau (2000).

  23. Memorandum between the Government of the People¨s Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Concerning the Reciprocal Establishment of Cultural Centres (2002). Enditem (www.fmprc.gov.cn)


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