17:07 GMT02 December 2020
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    Jeremy Hunt, who replaced Boris Johnson as the UK’s foreign secretary earlier this month, is to arrive in Beijing on Monday, to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Sputnik has spoken with regional specialists about what to expect from this meeting.

    As the US-China trade war continues to intensify, Jeremy Hunt is expected to host talks that cover Beijing-London bilateral relations and international issues.

    Kira Godovanyuk, a specialist from the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, in an interview with Sputnik, said that this upcoming meeting is London’s way of demonstrating the importance of bilateral relations with Beijing.

    "Of course, we are talking about discussing the prospects for cooperation between Great Britain and China, in light of the uncertainty arising in connection with the withdrawal from the EU, with regard to how to build relations with the US in light of the ongoing trade wars,” Godovanyuk said.

    She further said that British enterprises and investors participating in the giant One Belt, One Road initiative might also be affected by the trade war.

    “Britain does not simply express support for the Chinese initiative, but wants to participate in its separate sectors. Therefore, in Beijing, the parties will try to continue the discussion on how to promote a golden age in bilateral relations under these turbulent conditions,” the specialist said.

    Liu Dian, a specialist at Beijing People's University, told Sputnik that China has always emphasized the importance of cooperation with the UK in various fields. So it is quite reasonable to say that Jeremy Hunt's visit will deepen mutual trust, including in the political sphere.

    "China and Britain occupy a special place in the current international order; they are supporters of free trade. Therefore, both sides must take responsibility and obligations to work together to maintain a normal international order, build an open economy and oppose protectionism and unilateral measures,” Liu said.

    He went on to say that trade frictions between China and the US reflect the Washington's distrust of multilateral mechanisms and free trade. 

    According to Liu, China and the United Kingdom should strengthen strategic links and work together to play a more important role in global governance. “It is obvious that the Sino-British bilateral cooperation within the framework of the ‘one-belt, one-road’ will deepen.” 

    He added that the project would provide an opportunity to cooperate in energy, finance, transport, high technology and infrastructure. “It will also help further advance development of a global strategic partnership between China and the United Kingdom,” Liu said.

    According to the expert, the two countries must continue to strengthen strategic communication, political mutual trust and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. 

    The policy of globalizing Great Britain opens up new opportunities for Sino-British relations.

    The observers also believe that during the scheduled meetings, the issue of China's participation in the construction of high-speed railways in the UK may be brought up as well. This is a consortium of Chinese companies, involving the Guangzhou Railway Company from mainland China and MTR Corp from Hong Kong.

    The project provides for two branches: London-Birmingham; and Manchester-Sheffield-Leeds – with the first to be commissioned in 2026. 

    Tenders for foreign companies will be announced next year, while there are already some opponents to these projects. They call Chinese companies  the "white elephants" and discourage any cooperation with these companies. 

    In this regard, the expert in an interview with Sputnik said that at one time there were opponents of China's participation in the construction of the new site at Hinckley Point. Prime Minister Theresa May had even suspended the project for several months under pressure from the opposition. 

    However, China's financial and technological capabilities in the construction of high-speed trains, as well as the high prestige of its "railway diplomacy," provide ample opportunities to participate in the new British project.

    The views and opinions expressed by the experts do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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