Speaking to students at Beida University in Beijing today, he called for a UK-China relationship that is “strong on trade, strong on investment, strong on dialogue”.
The Prime Minister gave his speech towards the end of a two-day trip to China, having led the largest British trade delegation ever to visit the country. The PM, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other ministers were joined by 50 British business and education leaders as part of a drive to increase trade between the two countries.
Mr Cameron said:
In the argument about how to react to the rise of China, I say it’s an opportunity. I choose engagement not disengagement. Dialogue not stand-off. Mutual benefit, not zero-sum game. Partnership not protectionism.
Britain is the country that argues most passionately for globalisation and free trade. Free trade is in our DNA. And we want trade with China. As much of it as we can get.
That’s why I have with me on this visit one of the biggest and most high-powered delegations a British Prime Minister has ever led to China.
Just think about some of the prizes that the rise of China could help to bring within our grasp. Strong, and sustainable growth for the global economy. Vital progress on the Doha trade round which could add $170 billion to the global economy. A real chance to get back on track towards a legally binding deal on emissions Unprecedented progress in tackling poverty.
More than 40 specific agreements dealing with trade, low-carbon growth and cultural and education initiatives have been signed over the course of the two-day trip. Deals agreed include £750 million for Rolls-Royce to supply and service jet engines for China Eastern Airlines and the construction of 50 new English language schools by Pearson.
The Prime Minister said the deals could be “just the beginning of a whole new era of bilateral trade between our countries”.
Earlier today, Mr Cameron held bilateral talks with President Hu Jintao. He also opened the UK-China business summit and announced a $500m UK-China investment fund by private equity house First Eastern Group to an international audience of financial services professionals.
Speeches and transcripts: PM’s speech at Beida University.
Previous story: PM leads largest ever trade delegation to China.
The Prime Minister will now travel to South Korea for the G20 Summit.