LONDON, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Former British chief secretary of the Treasury and home office minister Liam Byrne has called on Britain and China for greater cooperation regarding the China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative to reach win-win.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua this week, Byrne, now a labor Member of Parliament, said that the momentum of globalization can come from Europe and China working together, therefore Europe and China working together to build the Belt and Road will become one of the most important initiatives for driving forward globalization over the next 10 years.
The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiative proposed by China in 2013. The initiative brings together countries in Asia, Europe and even Africa via overland and maritime networks.
Byrne published this week a new book proposing the new Silk Road as a new zone of cooperation.
"Britain and Europe lack a win-win vision for our relationship with the Middle East for the next 10 years," he said, adding that they have friends in the Middle East but no grand vision to build a flourishing Middle East.
The book, entitled "Black Flag Down" is the third book from Byrne, who served at the British Treasury in the government of Gordon Brown, and echoes of his first book 'Turning to Face the East' published in 2013, in which he examined Britain's old-fashioned attitude towards China.
"Middle East countries need help diversifying their economies and need help in trading goods other than oil," Byrne said. "Now China has presented in 2013 a bold vision of an economic integration in Eurasia with the new Silk Road but Europe now needs to match that ambition."
Byrne's keenness for greater cooperation between China and Britain was evident from his 2013 book, but the latest geopolitical developments seem to have given him a sense of urgency.
For Byrne the benefits for China and Britain are plain to see: both will win if they cooperate on the new Silk Road, and he sees the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as an example of the path to follow for developing Belt and Road Initiative.
Britain's embrace of the AIIB saw it become one of the first developed world nations to sign up to the China-proposed bank, and this sort of infrastructure investment framework could be replicated in other cooperative engagements along the Silk Road as the initiative rolls out in the coming years, according to Byrne.
"We know that there are great riches in the countries that lie on the Silk Road, we know that trade is underdeveloped there -- so this will become a very important economic zone but growth will not happen on its own," the politician said. "These 60 or so countries will need help from abroad to build infrastructure, foster people to people links, spreading good practice in education, encouraging enterprise, these will be the keys to unlocking change in that area and growing East-West trade."
Byrne's call for greater cooperation comes against the background of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, and its future need to build new trading relations across the world.
"We must not let Brexit affect the golden era," said Byrne. "We must use it as an inspiration to work harder. If you think that innovation is the biggest win-win between Britain and China it should not be affected, but as we increase research and development we need to put more effort into science and collaboration innovation between Britain and China."
In the field of business, Byrne praised the British drinks firm Diageo, a global giant in the alcoholic retail business.
Diageo has been investing in the strong Chinese drink baijiu this decade and the result, said Byrne, was that the expertize in brand and in globalization at the British company had pushed a Chinese brand into a global marketplace.
"British companies make great partners," said Byrne.
"The challenge for British capitalists for 500 years is 'how do you build a big company from a small island?' " he said.
"We have had to work globally for five centuries, so we are very good at going global. We are very good at brand and we are very good at innovation and these are exactly the things that Chinese firms need as they go global," Byrne noted.
"Go to a duty-free worldwide now and you see some great Chinese brands," he added.