UK Politics

Hague calls for closer ties between the UK and China

The foreign secretary has told his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi he wants to build a close working relationship between the two countries.

Speaking on his first visit to China since becoming foreign secretary, William Hague also said the UK had concerns about human rights in Tibet.

With the Chinese economy growing at around 10% per year, the UK is keen to increase exports to China.

Mr Hague said he saw the UK and China as "partners" in economic growth.

Speaking at a press conference with Mr Yang, the foreign secretary said both the UK and China were "beneficiaries of globalization and we have shared interests in furthering this process".

Bilateral trade between China and the UK totalled $39.1bn (£25.6bn) last year, although most of this was Chinese exports coming to the UK.

Like all overseas companies, UK firms face limits on selling their products in China, and any operation based in China selling to Chinese consumers must be part-owned by a Chinese business.

'Tibetan stability'

On the subject of Tibet, Mr Hague said London had "long-standing human rights concerns".

"We want to see long-term stability for Tibet, which in our view implies work on human rights and greater autonomy," he added.

Mr Yang said that while China and the UK had different "social systems and cultural heritage", opposing views on some issues would not have an adverse impact on normal ties between the two nations.

"We believe that the common interests of the two countries far outweigh the differences between the two sides," he said.

Mr Hague is due to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao later on Wednesday, before travelling to Japan on Thursday.

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