Two high-profile foreign leaders visited China for the first time in January. India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh became the first top Indian official to visit China in five years when he flew to Beijing for a three-day trip.
Singh announced that he wanted bilateral trade between his country and China to rise 50% to US$60 billion by 2010. Trade between the two countries was worth just US$2 billion as recently as 1999.
Premier Wen Jiabao and Singh issued a joint statement at the end of the trip that broadly indicated future cooperation on nuclear energy.
India and China fought a brief, month-long border war in 1962 over a section of still-contested territory in the Himalayas. The trip did not make major headway in resolving the dispute, but the two countries announced more joint military exercises.
Days after Singh left China, Gordon Brown arrived in Beijing for his first trip to the country as British prime minister. He was accompanied by a high-powered entourage that included Virgin boss Richard Branson.
The UK is the biggest investor in China within the EU. Brown and Premier Wen Jiabao want annual bilateral trade to grow by 50% to US$60 billion by 2010.
Eight cooperative deals worth a total of US$800 million were signed on education, climate change and renewable energy. An agreeemnt was also struck to double the number of Chinese firms listed on the London Stock Exchange by 2010.
In contrast to the protectionist sentiments present in other European nations, Brown said the UK would welcome China Investment Corp, the country’s sovereign wealth fund. He even went as far as to offer up London as a base for CIC’s internatinoal operations.