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British Prime Minister Courts Chinese Investment


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is in China courting Chinese business and investors. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

During his first visit to China as British leader, Mr. Brown presented his country as a welcoming place for investors from the world's fastest growing economy.

Mr. Brown met with China's Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao Friday. He said he saw China's rise not as a threat but as an opportunity.

"We want Britain to be the number one destination of choice for Chinese business as it invests in the rest of the world," he said. "And, I believe that the new level of partnership… will raise the level of investment from Chinese firms into Britain and raise the amount of trade between our two countries."

The two sides signed a series of cooperative agreements and contracts worth nearly $800 million and they agreed to expand trade from $40 billion last year to $60 billion by 2010.

Mr. Brown also oversaw the opening of a London Stock Exchange office in Beijing. He said the number of Chinese firms listed on the exchange would double by 2010 and over 100 new Chinese companies would invest in Britain.

Human rights and press freedom organizations had earlier urged Mr. Brown to press the Chinese leaders to honor their commitment to improve civil liberties ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Although trade between the two nations was clearly at the top of the agenda, Mr. Brown and Mr. Wen discussed human rights in China as well as in Sudan's Darfur region and Burma.