Former British prime minister Tony Blair receives an interview in London, Oct 14, 2015.(Photo: chinadaily.com.cn/Zhang Chunyan)
President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United Kingdom next week will usher in a "golden decade" and a new dimension for cooperation, former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday.
"It's possible to get to an even higher and increased level of cooperation, not just economically but politically," Blair told China Daily in London.
His comments came ahead of Xi's visit from Oct 19 to 23, the first state visit by a Chinese president to the UK in 10 years.
Blair, 62, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, stressed China's global role, saying: "How China develops its role in the world has massive implications for everyone today. There is no big global problem that can be sorted without China."
Blair said that President Xi is a leader with a very clear view on what he wants to do in China, because he knows that China faces challenges and he is determined to overcome them; the strength of his leadership is combined with a lot of exterior confidence.
Reports have said that business cooperation including a nuclear and high-speed rail project will be key topics to be discussed between China and Britain during Xi's visit.
Blair said, "The UK needs major infrastructure investment in nuclear power and rail construction, and China has the expertise in both and the capital to deploy.
"For Britain, nuclear power is very important for the energy mix. We need to make sure that we have diversity of supply … We want to keep this going, but again it's a big investment for the future. China is going to be our partner in this, along with France."
"If we renew our railways, we can actually ease a lot of problems of overcrowding, housing and difficulties of people finding work. You must get the rail networks up to speed as a high speed rail network," he said.
In September, during a visit to China, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne emphasized Sino-British cooperation on nuclear power and high-speed railways and said Britain would become China's "best partner in the West".
Blair said, "Britain really has got the opportunity to become the best western partner for China, we want to do this, this is something that crosses the whole aspects, we join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is important."
In terms of trade and investment, Blair said the UK-China relationship is incredibly important.
China is Britain's fourth-largest trading partner, while Britain is China's second-largest trading partner in the European Union and a top destination for Chinese investment.
Blair also said the two countries share views in many areas, including climate change and combating terrorism.
He stressed that people to people exchanges are vital as thousands of Chinese student come to study in the UK. "We want to send more British students to study in China."
"When those people come back to their home country, after studying, they know more about the country, and they know more about the people, culture, which makes for a stronger relationship."
"We have major British universities now established in China as well, we have British schools which also set up in China, and this is very important; we need to do a lot more, for example, teaching Chinese here in the UK, as this is the way the world is going to be," he said.
He said the UK is enthusiastic about further development with China to ensure that the next 10 years are a "golden decade".
Blair also said that in the 10 years he was prime minister, he put a great deal of emphasis on establishing a strong relationship with China.
Many British business leaders and experts have agreed that Xi's visit will herald a "golden era" for Sino-British relations.
Fu Xiaolan, director of the Technology and Management for Development Center at Oxford University, said, "The golden era embodies the two countries' current strengths and common interests."
Where the two countries complement each other, China and the UK can realize a strong union and become good partners, she said, adding that both governments take positive and pragmatic approaches to cooperating.