[QODLink]
Europe
China and UK sign $2.2bn trade deals
Wen Jiabao and David Cameron unveil new deals amid discussions on China's rights record and role in Libya conflict.
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2011 15:07
Wen and Cameron discussed China's human rights record while anti and pro China protesters gathered nearby [AFP]

Britain and China have announced a series of trade deals worth $2.3bn during a visit to London by Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, who batted away questions about his country's human rights record.

Wen and David Cameron, the British prime minister, signed the deal on Monday following a series of talks with ministers from both sides at Downing Street.

Cameron said that he was "delighted" to introduce the new deals, as they signal the beginning of a plan to increase bilateral trade to $100bn by 2015.

"To achieve that, both countries must continue to make the case for mutual commitment to market access," Cameron said.

Monday's signing is in line with the British government's strategy of expanding business with fast-growing emerging markets to help offset lagging domestic demand at a time of sharp spending cuts.

Britain is scrambling to catch up with European rivals Germany and France, the latter of which secured contracts worth $20bn for French firms last year.

Cameron's coalition government, which took office last May, has since made increased trade with China a priority.

The British gas company BG Group said on Monday that as part of the trade deals, it had signed a co-operation agreement with Bank of China allowing up to $1.5bn of new funding options to support BG's growth plans in the Asian country.

Human rights

As part of wide-ranging discussions, Cameron said, the two leaders discussed China's human rights record as well as Beijing's role in the ongoing NATO military operations in Libya, in which Britain is playing a lead role.

China has clamped down heavily on dissent this year, silencing scores of activists through arrests, though it released Ai Weiweim, a prominent artist and activist, last week and Hu Jia, a high-profile dissident, on Sunday.

A small crowd of protesters gathered outside Downing Street for the talks, carrying posters reading "Cameron and Wen: human rights before trade" and "Free Tibet". A similarly sized pro-China demonstration gathered nearby.

Wen, who flew into Britain late Saturday as part of a European tour, responded that there should not be "finger-pointing" at his country over human rights.

The men also discussed the ongoing NATO military operations in Libya, in which Britain is playing a lead role.

In a rare comment, the Chinese premier also said Beijing was talking to both NATO and Libya, because the conflict would only be resolved by Libyans themselves.

"Foreign troops may be able to win war in a place, but they can hardly win peace," Wen said.

"We hope that the issue of Libya will be resolved through political, peaceful means to reduce the humanitarian harm - in particular the harm of innocent civilians."

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.