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UK’s Cameron meets Chinese President Hu

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) shakes hands with China's President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 10, 2010. Cameron set out the benefits of multi-party democracy, the rule of law and a free media on Wednesday in comments that are likely to rile his hosts China. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic )

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November 10, 2010 BEIJING  (KATAKAMI / AP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron met China’s top leader Wednesday in a bid to boost business ties and told President Hu Jintao he was committed to expanding relations.

Cameron, who is being accompanied by four Cabinet ministers and about 50 business leaders, was to deliver a speech emphasizing Britain’s importance as a world power and Chinese trading partner after meeting with Hu.

“We put the highest value on the Britain-China relationship, I hope that this visit will further strengthen it,” Cameron told Hu at the start of their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, home to China’s legislature in the heart of the capital.

Human rights and global security concerns surrounding Iran and North Korea appear to have taken a back seat during the China visit, although Cameron has said he would raise those issues in his talks with Wen and Hu.

Last year, China was Britain’s third-largest source of imports and ninth-largest export market. Cameron has said he hopes to see annual bilateral trade double by 2015 to more than $100 billion, including $30 billion per year in British exports.

Among the contracts signed so far is a $1.2 billion deal for jet engine maker Rolls-Royce to provide engines for 16 A330 jets operated by China Eastern Airlines.

On Tuesday, Cameron met with Premier Wen Jiabao at the Great Hall of the People after a formal welcoming ceremony.

“My new government does highly value the relationship between Britain and China, and we believe that this is an area where there should be great continuity with the last government who helped establish this very strong relationship,” he said.

The two-day visit is Cameron’s second major foray to court an emerging economy since taking office in May. He went to India in July.

Underscoring his support for British businesses, Cameron’s first stop after arriving Tuesday was a Beijing branch of British supermarket chain Tesco, which has nearly 100 outlets in China and plans to add another 20 by year end.

Cameron is joined by executives from Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Tesco PLC, Barclays bank and Diageo PLC, among others. Treasury chief George Osborne, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne and Education Secretary Michael Gove are also on the trip.

Cameron’s visit comes on the heels of Hu’s trip to France and Portugal last week that resulted in $20 billion worth of contracts for French and European companies. Wen visited several European countries in September and October, conveying pledges to strengthen trade and purchase Greek bonds.

Cameron’s visit is the first by a British leader since China executed a 53-year-old British man, Akmal Shaikh, for drug smuggling in December, despite an official appeal on his behalf from London. The execution drew condemnation from British politicians and rights groups who argued Shaikh was delusional and had unwittingly been exploited by criminals.

David Cameron focuses on democracy in China speech

 

Mr Cameron has been joined by four cabinet ministers and 43 business leaders on the trip

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November 10, 2010  (KATAKAMI / BBC) — David Cameron is expected to promote the benefits of democracy in a keynote speech to Chinese students in Beijing.

He is expected to say that political freedom and the rule of law provide the best path to stability and prosperity.

He will acknowledge British society is “not perfect” and insist that he is not trying to place the UK in a position of “moral superiority” over China.

The prime minister is on a two-day trade mission but has been urged to address China’s record on human rights.

He has said he will not “lecture and hector” China over political freedoms and human rights. His aides have said the speech is intended in a spirit of frank dialogue, rather than criticism.

But he will say better governance is promoted by institutions such as Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons and an official opposition, by forcing leaders to listen to criticism and adapt their policies in response.

The existence of a judiciary able to strike down unlawful official actions “make our government better and our country stronger”, he will say.

And those who hold different views from the government are able to take part in public debate through a free media.

“We believe that the better informed the British public is about the issues affecting our society… the easier it is, ultimately, for the British government to come to sensible decisions and to develop robust policies that command the confidence of our people, ” he will say.

‘Mutual respect’

Mr Cameron is expected to acknowledge that leading a country of 1.3 billion people raises difficulties of a different order from those of a nation of 60 million.

Speaking to students at Beida University he will add: “I make these observations not because I believe that we have some moral superiority.

“Our own society is not perfect. There is still injustice which we must work hard to tackle. We are far from immune from poverty and the ills that afflict every nation on earth.”

But he will say: “In arguing for a strong relationship between our countries, I want a relationship in which we can be open with each other, in which we can have a constructive dialogue of give and take in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect.

“The rise in economic freedom in China in recent years has been hugely beneficial to China and to the world.

“I hope that in time this will lead to a greater political opening… because I am convinced that the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together.”

On Tuesday, Mr Cameron raised the issue of human rights during talks with the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, but did not refer directly to jailed dissident and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiabo.

But BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Cameron was expected to talk specifically about this later in the visit, which aims to promote trade.

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who says he was recently put under house arrest by the Chinese authorities, said Mr Cameron must make a public statement about China’s human rights record.

He suggested that by avoiding the matter, the prime minister he was putting trade ahead of human rights

Mr Cameron, who is joined by four cabinet ministers and 43 business leaders, called the trip a “vitally important trade mission”.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce has won a $1.2bn (£750m) contract – the biggest of the visit so far – which is to supply a Chinese airline with Trent 700 engines for 16 Airbus A330 aircraft, along with long-term servicing.

On Wednesday, Mr Cameron will visit the Great Wall of China and meet President Hu Jintao before flying on to the G20 summit in South Korea.

image of Nick  Robinson Nick Robinson BBC political editor :

It is a reminder of how limited is the power of our government to even express deep concern let alone do anything about China’s continued policy of repression and opposition to democracy”

Chinese President Arrives in Portugal

Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) waves as he stands with his wife Liu Yongqing upon their arrival at Orly airport, south of Paris on November 4, 2010. Hu is on a three-day state visit during which France hopes to clinch billions of dollars in deals for nuclear, aviation and energy technology. (Photo by CHARLES PLATIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

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November 06, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Portugal Saturday for an official visit aimed at boosting bilateral trade, investment and energy and cultural exchanges.

During his visit, President Hu is scheduled to hold talks with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Prime Minister Jose Socrates and other top officials. The two sides are expected to sign several cooperation agreements.

China’s official news agency, Xinhua, says the smooth handover of Macao from Portugal to China in 1999 opened a new page in the history of bilateral relations. It says the relationship further improved with the 2005 inauguration of the strategic partnership between the two nations.

President Hu, accompanied by his wife Liu Yongqing, members of the Chinese government and around 50 business leaders, arrived in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, from Nice, where he wrapped up his visit to France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy took Mr. Hu to Nice for private talks that were expected to revolve around global issues.

During the visit to France, the Chinese delegation secured more than $20 billion in contracts for French firms, boosting France’s airline, telecom and nuclear industries. (*)

Photostream : Chinese President Hu Jintao visits France

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) meets his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao at the Villa Massena in Nice November 5, 2010. Hu is on a three-day visit in France. (Getty Images / REUTERS / Jacques Witt/Pool )

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, welcomes Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, upon his arrival at the Massena Palace in Nice, southern France, Friday Nov. 5, 2010. The Chinese President is on his second day state visit to France.(Getty Images /AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and China's President Hu Jintao speak together as they arrive at the Villa Massena for talks in Nice November 5, 2010. China's President Hu Jintao is on a three-day visit in France. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Christian Alminana )

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, center, and Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, meet people as they arrive at the Villa Massena in Nice, southern France, Friday Nov. 5, 2010. The Chinese President is on a state visit to France. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure, Pool)

Former French President Jacques Chirac (L) speaks with China's President Hu Jintao (R) during a meeting at the George V Hotel in Paris November 5, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Patrick Kovarik/Pool )

Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, is welcomed by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon at Matignion, in Paris, Friday, Nov.5, 2010. France announced 16 billion Euros(22,8 billion Dollars)in deals to sell uranium, technology and more than 100 Airbus planes to China.(Getty Images / AP Photo/Yoan Valat, Pool)

China's President Hu Jintao (C) stands next to French Junior Minister for Veterans' affairs Hubert Falco (L) and a military official as he pays homage after laying a wreath at the unknown soldier's tomb at the Arc of Triomphe in Paris November 5, 2010. (Getty Images/ REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool )

Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) waves as he stands with his wife Liu Yongqing upon their arrival at Orly airport, south of Paris on November 4, 2010. Hu is on a three-day state visit during which France hopes to clinch billions of dollars in deals for nuclear, aviation and energy technology. (Photo by CHARLES PLATIAU/AFP/Getty Images)