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UPDATED: June 23, 2014 NO. 26 JUNE 26, 2014
Eyeing the Future
Chinese premier's Britain trip aims to clear hurdles and advance cooperation
By Yu Lintao

Under a framework cooperation agreement signed during Li's visit, Britain welcomes Chinese firms taking part in its planned high-speed HS2 rail network, a 42-billion-pound ($71.2 billion) project, with the first 192-km stage linking London and Birmingham.

In a joint statement, the two countries announced a decision to set up a renminbi clearing bank in London. The move will help the two countries realize direct trade between the renminbi and the British pound, which is conducive to completing the market infrastructure, reducing transaction costs and exchange risks, and facilitating the development of mutual investment and trade.

The two countries have also made great efforts to deepen people-to-people exchanges. During Li's visit, the British Home Office announced a new visa service for Chinese visitors to travel to the country. All Chinese visitors will be able to use a single form to process applications for both British and Schengen visas, which permit access to 26 European countries.

Observers noted that the new British approach, which streamlines the Britain's visa process, can help the country explore a much larger Chinese tourism market and contribute to people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Statistics from the UK-China Visa Alliance show that about 1.3 million Chinese tourists have been prevented from entering Britain because of the complicated visa process, and most instead went to Germany or France.

As both a traditional power and a financial center, Britain holds an important status in Europe. Analysts claimed China's strengthening economic and financial cooperation also adds up to a larger China-EU economic cooperation partnership.

"London could play a constructive role on issues concerning a China-EU investment agreement and a China-EU free trade zone, which are also to Britain's benefit," said former Ambassador Ma.

Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

Boosting Ties With Greece

China and Greece agreed to further advance bilateral ties during Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to the European country on June 19-21, on the heels of his trip to Britain.

China is fully confident about the prospect of Greece's development, Li said, when meeting with his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras. Li added that his country stands ready to consolidate political mutual trust with Greece.

The Piraeus Container Terminal project has become a model of Sino-Greek and Sino-European cooperation, said Li, calling for more investment from both sides and vowing to build Piraeus into a top port in the Mediterranean.

The Piraeus port, the largest in Greece, is jointly operated by China's state-owned shipping giant COSCO and the Greek port authority under a 35-year lease signed in 2009.

China will also work with Greece to explore new economic growth points, especially in maritime cooperation. Li said the two countries should make joint efforts in developing the maritime economy and promoting tourism, and should look forward to a year of successful Sino-Greek maritime cooperation in 2015.

Calling on both sides to continuously expand bilateral trade and deepen cultural exchanges, the Chinese premier appreciated Greece's efforts as the rotating EU president in pushing forward China-Europe ties.

Reaffirming China's support for European integration, Li said he hopes Greece will continue to play a unique role in advancing the China-Europe investment agreement talks and opposing protectionism.

For his part, Samaras said when Greece was caught in its worst-ever debt crisis, the timely support provided by China brought confidence and strength to the debt-ridden country.

Greece welcomes more investment from Chinese enterprises as well as more Chinese tourists, Samaras added.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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