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Commentary: Britain needs to join China to keep “golden” bilateral ties on track

by Xinhua Writer Zhu Junqing

BEIJING,   (Xinhua) — London has recently made a positive step forward in trying to dilute uncertainties clouding its relations with Beijing following a controversial decision to delay a major nuclear power plant co-sponsored with China and France.

Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Theresa May dispatched her special envoy, Alok Sharma, along with a letter to Beijing in a bid to reassure China of Britain’s commitment to the “Golden Era” of bilateral relations, a laudable first move in the right direction.

During his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Sharma said the most important message he extended shows that London attaches great importance to bilateral cooperation and regards China as an important global strategic partner.

In May’ s letter, the prime minister said she looked forward to attending the upcoming G20 Summit in the city Hangzhou as well as strengthening cooperation with China on trade and business, along with other global issues, according to the envoy.

Apparently, London’s so-called “national security” concerns over Chinese investment into the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant could well endanger the bright new prospects the two nations’ leadership have agreed to foster during Chinese President Xi Jinping‘ s visit to Britain last October.

The worries over the plant are as groundless as they are unnecessary. The Chinese investor only has one-third of the project’s stakes while the French side holds all the rest. Thus it is impossible and commercially suicidal for the Chinese side to manipulate the project at its own will.

Also, London’s misgivings over Chinese involvement in its key infrastructure is yet another stroke of China-phobia.

For years, despite some twists and turns, China has always been a reliable partner for Britain, and has handled their ties from a strategic and long-term perspective.

Theresa May and her cabinet came to power at a time when Britain voted to leave the European Union amid a still anemic global economic recovery.

After divorcing the EU, Britain would be foolish to decline stronger trade ties with China, whose markets remain home to tremendous business opportunities.

As the British prime minister is set to travel to China for the G20 summit next month, her government has promised to make a final decision on the project in the autumn.

While contemplating whether to give the program a go-ahead or not, London needs to fully appreciate the gravity of what’s at stake. It is hoped that Britain will exercise prudence and openness in its decision making so that ties with China remain on the right track at such a critical historical juncture.

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