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China Daily Website

Time to set past differences by the wayside

Updated: 2013-07-08 07:20
By Zhang Chunyan ( China Daily)

As summer comes in a stately manner in Britain, Sino-UK relations, which have been turbulent in the past year, also start to warm.

At the end of June, British newspaper the Daily Telegraph published an article written by Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador in Britain about bilateral relations.

Liu said in the article that China and the UK have differences and have been through some less pleasant experiences. The two countries differ in history, culture, social system and values, and are at different stages of development, "so it is natural that we have different views on some issues".

But he stressed: "What matters is how we deal with these differences. China and Britain need to respect each other's concerns, strengthen mutual trust and, in this way, engage in 'win-win' cooperation.

"I believe this is how we can increase deeper shared understanding. Differences should be discussed by open dialogue rather than standing in the way of our relations."

He also quoted a famous Chinese saying, "No hassle, no friendship", and an English equivalent, "No discord, no concord", to explain that China and Britain are getting over the difficult times and are in a better position to properly manage their differences.

Liu's article came after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and British Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke via telephone several days ago.

Hague made clear that Britain understands China's concerns and sensitivities about the Tibet autonomous region. He reaffirmed that Britain recognizes Tibet as part of China and does not support "Tibet independence".

The Financial Times and Chinese media interpreted the overture as a sign that the UK's soured ties with China are beginning to thaw.

In my mind, both sides are struggling to seek the beginning of the end, but also the start of a new chapter in bilateral relations.

Also in June, China and Britain signed a currency swap line with an upper value of 21 billion pounds ($31.8 billion). It is the first currency swap agreement signed by China and a major European economy. It is also one big step forward for London to become a center for offshore yuan trading.

Good news goes beyond the business and economic sectors. Earlier in June, the British Council launched Generation UK, an ambitious project with the aim of sending more than 15,000 young Britons to China in the coming three years to study at universities or work as interns in Chinese companies.

In August, China's Shanghai Ballet Troupe will arrive in London. They will stage a production adapted from Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre.

One of my friends, who is preparing a forum between China and the UK, told me that the nicer climate will benefit everything including exchanges between the two countries.

The political relationship between China and the UK was elevated to the ambassadorial level in March 1972. During the past 41 years, the two sides have seen abundant cooperation in culture, education, tourism, business and economy. In the future, there is still great potential for bilateral win-win cooperation, as pointed out by Ambassador Liu.

Just as he put it: "Much time has been lost in the mutually shared aim of advancing the interests of our two countries. It is high time that we looked to the future and stepped up our cooperation."

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