Published: 10:43, July 8, 2022 | Updated: 10:43, July 8, 2022
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UK has chance to restore shine of 'golden age'
By China Daily

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement in front of 10 Downing Street in central London on July 7, 2022. Johnson quit as Conservative party leader, after three tumultuous years in charge marked by Brexit, COVID-19 and mounting scandals. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

With the loss of support within his government and party, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was left with no option but to resign on Thursday. This brings his tumultuous, scandal-plagued, just shy of three years in office to an ignominious end. It remains to be seen who will succeed him, but it is to be hoped the new leader will pursue a rational China policy that has not been molded by Washington.

By enthusiastically jumping onto the United States' anti-China bandwagon, the Johnson government ruined the mutual respect and good momentum of productive economic and trade cooperation that had been hailed as the beginning of a "golden age" for Sino-UK relations.

The new leader of the UK can draw the lessons from that.

The damage done to Sino-UK relations, because of the UK government's meddling in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang affairs, and its forming of AUKUS with Australia and the US, among other things, has been substantial.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations between the two countries. The general strengthening of cooperation between the two sides, despite the occasional setbacks, have brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and beyond.

China is the UK's largest trading partner in Asia and its largest source of imports. In 2021, bilateral trade between China and the UK reached $112.6 billion, up 22 percent year-on-year. More than 500 Chinese companies have set up shop in the UK.Bilateral economic and trade cooperation shows a trend of diversification particularly in the UK's competitive fields of transportation, energy, chemical industry, machinery manufacturing, information and biological engineering.

Brexit should have represented a chance for the UK and China to further tap the complementarity potential of their economies and carry on the good momentum of their economic and trade cooperation. But the Johnson administration's joining with the US to decouple China from the world market put paid to any such hopes.

Johnson's successor will, hopefully, be aware that the way the Johnson administration treated relations with China has not served the UK's interests.

China remains willing to develop healthy relations with the UK on the basis of mutual respect and due consideration for its core interests.

The UK side should take the opportunity of Johnson's resignation to balance the gains and losses of persisting with his administration's approach toward China. Taking concrete actions to put the relations back onto the right track will make the past three years merely a temporary blip in the "golden age" of their relations.