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Video / 17 June 2014 at 15:01 GMT

Trading places - Why China and the UK need each other

Alex Forrest Whiting
From an audience with the Queen to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the red carpet has certainly been rolled out for China’s Premier Li Keqiang. He and his Chinese delegation are in London for trade talks with Britain. But Professor Danny Quah from the London School of Economics says they’re as beneficial to the People’s Republic as they are to the UK.

China may have the second largest global economy but Professor Quah points out that the country is still developing. He says that what it needs from the UK are clever ways to manage energy, a better understanding of both science and technology and advice on how best to harness the power of financial services. He also believes that the UK needs China at a critical point in its own economic trajectory.

But when it comes to trade exports with China, the UK is far behind its European counterparts. German exports to the Asian superpower were worth USD 73.4 billion last year. France managed USD 19 billion but Britain just USD 10.1 billion. Professor Quah claims this will change as Britain offers different services including expertise in higher education.

One issue that always seems to raise its ugly head in Sino-British relations is China’s poor human rights’ record. Danny Quah says that while this subject is also important to China, with 120 million Chinese still living in poverty freedom from starvation has to be its focus. He concludes that dealing with global climate change and rebooting the world’s economies are also important.

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