President Xi Jinping’s visit will also receive a warm welcome from the British Monarchy. Queen Elizabeth the second, who has met with some of the most famous leaders in recent history, is expected to greet President Xi at Buckingham Palace.
Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012 was a turning point in Sino-UK relations. For 18 months, Beijing gave London the cold shoulder, while at the same time developing cordial relationships with Germany and France. The low ebb in bilateral ties happened when Europe was deeply troubled. Although China had struggled with Germany and France over the same problem in 2007 and 2008, by 2012, China was much stronger and was deemed more influential. Now, China has become more attractive to Europe than ever, and that has served to transform the foundation of China-EU relations.
The UK has shown its adept diplomatic skills while re-calibrating its relationship with China. It was the first European nation to announce that it had applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, an international financial institution proposed by China. This decision thawed the previous discord. Since then, the UK has committed itself to turning London into the biggest offshore yuan center other than Hong Kong. Cameron has received Ren Zhengfei, president of Huawei, one of China’s biggest telecommunications companies. He also invited Chinese companies to invest in a new nuclear power station project. Such actions have set examples in Europe.
As an old empire, the UK has declined, but its foundation is solid. With a special relationship with the US, London knows how to communicate with Washington over China issues.
London making a friendly gesture to China shows that Western countries are trying to redress their deep-rooted political prejudices and explore more potential to develop relations with China.
To a large extent, London’s friendliness toward China stems from the pursuit of more benefits, but it shows that the spillover of China’s development in many respects has become an irresistible attraction. Nothing can guarantee that country-to-country relations will develop on a certain course without having to worry about derailment. So far, historical experience has shown us that the bond of interests is one of the most reliable mechanisms that can maintain a reciprocal bilateral relationship.
China and the UK need each other. As the US is becoming weaker in exporting interests to Europe, China is providing more opportunities to the UK, while China also needs a Western country to set an example for a new China-West relationship.
It must be noted that political and ideological misunderstandings will remain a challenge for both sides. How to deal with them is a long-term issue.- Global Times