News / Economy

Britain's Cameron Visits Beijing, Pushes EU-China Free Trade Deal

British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as they arrive for a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as they arrive for a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.
Reuters
British Prime Minister David Cameron flew into China saying he wanted to lay the groundwork for a multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between Beijing and the European Union, despite growing unease about his own country's membership in the bloc.
 
On a three-day visit with a delegation of around 100 business people, the largest-ever British mission of its kind, Cameron said he wanted his country to play an important role in China's expansion as the world's second biggest economy is talking about opening up its markets.
 
“China's transformation is one of the defining facts of our lifetime,” Cameron wrote in Caixin, a Chinese weekly news magazine, on the eve of the visit.
 
“There is a genuine choice for every country over how to respond. They can choose to see China's rise as a threat or an opportunity. Britain's answer is clear. We want to see China succeed,” continued Cameron.
 
Cameron's push for an E.U.-China trade deal will irritate the European Commission, which is understood to be strongly opposed to such a move on the grounds that it risks flooding the bloc with cheap Chinese imports and comes as the bloc is embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over solar panel exports.
 
It is also likely to be seized upon by political opponents, as he has put a question mark over Britain's continued membership of the 28-nation E.U. by promising Britons an in/out referendum on leaving the bloc if re-elected in 2015.
 
“I now want to set a new long-term goal of an ambitious and comprehensive E.U.-China Free Trade Agreement,” Cameron wrote.
 
“And as I have on the E.U.-U.S. deal, so I will put my full political weight behind such a deal which could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year,” promised Cameron.
 
Cameron is expected to raise the subject in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday. His office said he was the first European leader to champion such a deal in this way.
 
He had already discussed the idea of an E.U.-China trade deal with other E.U. member states, it added. Such a deal would address services liberalization and better intellectual property rights protection.
 
Cameron told reporters on the plane to Beijing he was aware the idea was not universally popular among E.U. member states, but said it could be a chance to tackle Beijing on intellectual property rights and trading standards.
 
“It'll be the normal thing in the EU which will be a discussion where there will be some skeptics. There will be some enthusiasts and I think the enthusiasts have the wind in our sails,” said Cameron.
 
Human Rights    
 
British finance minister George Osborne opened the door to further Chinese investment in Britain during a visit to Beijing last month, during which he announced less stringent rules for Chinese banks operating in London in a push to make the British capital the main offshore hub for trading in China's currency and bonds.
 
He also paved the way for Chinese investors to take majority stakes in future British nuclear plants.
 
Campaigners have often accused Cameron of putting trade before human rights. On this trip, activists want him to raise what they say are rights abuses in Tibet.
 
A senior source in his office said before the trip that Britain had turned the page on a rift with China over Tibet, adding that Cameron had no plans to once again meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader-in-exile, after their meeting last year angered Beijing.
 
Asked on the plane whether he would be raising Tibet, Cameron was non-committal, but said nothing was “off limits” in Britain's relationship with China.
 
As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Cameron said the two countries would also discuss Iran and North Korea.
 
Cameron visited a training academy for Jaguar Land Rover sales staff in Beijing on Monday to mark its official opening as the carmaker unveiled a deal worth 4.5 billion pounds to provide 100,000 cars to the National Sales Company in China.
 
England's Premier League is also expected to announce an agreement with the Chinese Super League to develop football in China and boost the Premier League's profile.
 
Xavier Rolet, the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, is travelling with Cameron.
 
The business delegation also includes Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline. The company was drawn into a bribery case in China earlier this year which resulted in police detaining four Chinese GSK executives.
 
Peter Humphrey, a British man running a risk advisory group, was also detained and is still being held.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.