The relations between the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the People’s Republic of China is currently one of a peculiar situation. Because of the history both countries have with each other, China’s feelings for the U.K. are quite negative despite the fact that both countries do have a minimal form of a working relationship. However, said relationship has been rehabilitated ever since the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron met with the Dalai Lama back in 2012. Since then, Cameron has done all he can to further improve the U.K.’s relationship with China.
This week, David Cameron has taken another huge step in improving said relationship with China through a state visit with China’s president, Xi Jinping. Apparently, Cameron is doing all he can with this state visit by proposing sweet business deals between the U.K. and China. Not only that, Jinping is even being pampered with the royal treatment by wining and dining with Queen Elizabeth II.
A more solid business relationship with China will truly benefit the U.K., a country that has suffered much economic hardship, as reported by the Guardian. David Cameron will attempt to establish such during the second day of Xi Jinping’s visit with trade summits and a bilateral meeting in Downing Street. Reportedly, the biggest deal to be made is likely an investment by China’s state nuclear power companies in two new plants being built by EDF, a French firm at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It is also possible that the HS2 rail line will also be included in the talks since Chancellor George Osbourne has been seeking money from China to help build it.
In return for China’s investments in British infrastructure, David Cameron is unveiling a new visa regime catering to the Chinese. Under such, Chinese tourists will have cheaper access for multiple visits to the U.K. compared to travelers of other countries. He will cut the price of two-year multiple entry visas to the price of six-month visas for the Chinese. Ergo, its price will plummet from £384 to £84. Also, the government is looking into two other changes for the Chinese. First is a cost reduction of a ten-year multiple entry visa. The second is to extend their mobile, finger-printing services for visa applications to up to 50 Chinese cities. Right now, only nine have such a service.
Altogether, both the U.K. and China will have about £30 billion in new business deals between them. The two nuclear plans are rumored to be at £8 billion each while the HS2 rail line is advertised to have £11.8 billion in contracts.
Needless to say, David Cameron and the U.K. government is pulling out all the stops, rolling out the red carpet just to appease Xi Jinping during his state visit. According to America Online (AOL), Xi was met with lavish tradition and military pomp as he was greeted with a 41-gun artillery salute. Next, he and his wife Peng Liyuan were escorted in a gilded carriage drawn by white horses to Buckingham Palace, the place he would stay for his state visit. There, Xi and Peng partook in a banquet in which Queen Elizabeth II hailed the U.K. and China’s relationship a “global partnership” before leading guests in a toast to the Chinese president and his wife. Afterwards, Xi made a short speech to both houses of Parliament, an honor given to select visiting politicians including U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The most important detail about Xi Jinping’s short speech is the fact that he observed the elephant in the room of the antagonizing history both the U.K. and China had. However, he did his best to quell such doubts by quoting William Shakespeare saying “what’s past is prologue” and that both nations need to “join hands and move forward.” Only time will tell if such a relationship can truly move forward from such a tainted past.
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