China and Britain revved their cooperation into higher gear as they signed on Wednesday a slew of lucrative deals, laying a solid foundation for the "golden time" of their partnership. [Special coverage]
The deals, tantamount to about 60 billion U.S. dollars according to British Prime Minister David Cameron who had witnessed their signing, are a truthful fulfillment of Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge to enhance cooperation with Britain.
Xi said in a written interview with Reuters prior to the British trip that "China looks forward to engaging with the UK in a wider range, at a higher level and in greater depth."
Signed on the third day of Xi's "super" state visit, the deals are a manifestation of Britain's will to be the Western country that is most open to China, which is regarded by Xi as a visionary and strategic choice that fully meets Britain's own long-term interest.
"It has been the right time for both sides to deepen their bilateral relationship and mutually-beneficial cooperation as the 'comprehensive strategic partnership' is embracing the second decade," said Xi.
With Britain intending to be the "best Western partner" of China, bilateral ties have undergone remarkable development in recent years, laying a solid foundation for their global comprehensive strategic partnership in the 21st century.
"China and Britain will open up a golden time of enduring, inclusive and win-win relationship and jointly create a brighter future for bilateral relations," Xi told a joint press conference with Cameron after their meeting.
Enjoying huge complementary advantages, China and Britain are in the middle of a crucial docking of their development strategies.
As the British government regards China's development as an opportunity rather than a challenge, common interests and bilateral cooperation have more room to grow and prosper.
Trade and investment between the two sides have been surging these years, and financial and infrastructure cooperation has also been deepening, as the two countries have agreed to conjoin China's "Belt and Road" Initiative with Britain's "Northern Powerhouse" project, Xi said.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a senior lecturer in international relations with King's College London, said it is time to lift the China-Britain relationship to a new level.
Noting that British perceptions of China have been improving over the past few years, he said for the most part, Britain has recognized that China is becoming more cooperative.
China and Britain are both major countries with significant influence. Now their partnership is standing on a new starting point, Xi has said, calling for both sides to seize opportunities to promote their ties.
ENERGY COOPERATION BREAKTHROUGH
Xi said that during his visit to Britain, a slew of inter-governmental and business cooperation documents were signed, including the one on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is the product of tripartite cooperation among China, Britain and France.
According to Cameron, the plant would provide reliable, affordable energy to nearly 6 million homes and create more than 25,000 jobs in Britain.
He Yu, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), told Xinhua that the deal would promote the exportation of Chinese nuclear facilities to high-end markets in Europe and provide opportunities for Chinese companies to get fully involved in the development of Britain's nuclear power industry.
This is a triple-win for the existing nuclear energy partnership between China, France and Britain, he said.
He attributed the company's participation in the Hinkley Point project to increasingly close economic and trade ties between China and Britain.
"As political mutual trust and economic partnership develop, I believe more breakthroughs will be seen in the cooperation in the nuclear power industry of the two countries," he said.
Prof. David Elmes with Britain's Warwick Business School said that the project is supposed to prompt a new wave of Chinese investment in British energy infrastructure, noting that it is the first project in the British government's plans for a series of new nuclear power stations.
ENHANCING INNOVATION COOPERATION
Cooperation in innovation industry is emerging as a new highlight in China-Britain cooperation, as China is boosting mass entrepreneurship and innovation while Britain has experience in this field.
Sharing one umbrella in typical London rain, Xi and Britain's Prince William on Wednesday viewed a James Bond sports car from Britain's iconic automaker Aston Martin that will be equipped with an entertainment system with Chinese technology.
"China and Britain are both cultural powers. We should enhance creative cultural exchanges and improve mutual understanding between our two peoples through cultural products," said Xi.
As China's economic growth has entered a "new normal", the Chinese government attaches great importance to innovation and is eager to deepen and broaden innovation cooperation with Britain.
"We will enhance macro regulation in creative ways to improve the quality and efficiency of economic development and address the lack of balance, coordination and stainability in the economy. We will put more emphasis on innovation and consumption-driven growth," Xi said in the interview with Reuters.
Earlier Wednesday, Xi visited Data Science Institute and the Hamlyn Center at the prestigious Imperial College London.
The Chinese president encouraged the students to contribute to bilateral cooperation in science and technology for the two countries' common prosperity.
Having a busy schedule Thursday, Xi will address the opening ceremony of an annual meeting of Confucius Institutes in Britain, meet Cameron in the country residence of Chequers and fly to Manchester at night.