Prime Minister Tony Blair today welcomed China's Premier， Wen Jiabao， to Downing Street. The UK and China later published a joint statement.
First of all can I extend a very warm welcome to Premier Wen here today， and to say that our discussions have built on the meeting that we had in China in July last year. And next year of course the UK is Chair of the G8， whilst China holds the Chair of the G20， and we have agreed that we should step up our bilateral relationship and in particular that there should be annual Prime Ministerial Summits and the work of the China-UK Task Force which is strengthening our relationship across a whole range of areas should be taken forward in order to make sure that the reality of today of a strong British-Chinese relationship is made manifest.
I am also delighted to say in our bilateral relations there is a very strong commercial base. The UK is Europe's largest investor in China and over 170 Chinese companies already invest in the UK. I am pleased to announce the signature of new contracts from British companies in China worth over $1 billion dollars during this visit， but China's remarkable economic growth means that it is possible for her to extend our bilateral commercial ties even further.
We have also agreed to deepen our co-operation on combating illegal immigration. A new Memorandum of Understanding， the first China has agreed with any country， will take forward practical measures to help prevent a repeat of the tragic events that took place in this country in Morecambe Bay. It will help too to combat the criminal gangs who profit from people-smuggling and to speed up the return of illegal immigrants， and we have also made a political agreement to sign an agreement facilitating and controlling tourist travel from China to the UK.
We agreed our commitment as co-signatories to the Joint Declaration to stability， prosperity and a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong. We've agreed to take forward our dialogue in a spirit of co-operation.
I also welcome recent Constitutional developments in China that now recognise the specific responsibility to protect human rights and we will continue to use our human rights dialogue to raise issues of concern.
We will be discussing over lunch various international issues， but once again I would like to say how strong the co-operation between our two countries is now， the healthy state of our bilateral relationship， and across a whole range of issues， not just economic but political also， Britain and China are working closely and well together， and long may that continue.
Today I discussed with the Prime Minister about bilateral relations and also other issues. This meeting has taken place after full preparation. Over half a year ago the Prime Minister visited China. We decided to set up an interactive working group to promote our relationship to a new level. This group has worked for 6 months and has reached consensus over a serious range of issues. Through the discussions we have had we have confirmed that we will want to further promote our relationship in 4 areas.
First， is to establish a mechanism of meetings of Heads of Government. While the Prime Minister visited China last year， I am visiting the UK this year. The Prime Minister has agreed to visit China next year as a way of launching this annual Summit mechanism.
Secondly， we want to improve our consultations over major issues including anti-terrorism， non-proliferation， environment and sustainable development. We will consult on these important issues.
Thirdly， we have identified areas of co-operation. There are 6 of them. They include trade and investment， finance and budgetary matters. Technology， education， environment and agriculture.
Fourthly， we want to establish a dialogue mechanism so that we can conduct dialogue regarding issues where we have different views in order to resolve these differences and to improve our understanding and to reach more consensus.
I think the meeting with the Prime Minister has been very fruitful. I hope that after my visit we will continue to implement the consensus we have reached. On the 17th of next month it will be the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. The United Kingdom was one of the first to recognise the People's Republic of China I believe. As long as we continue to respect each other and to treat each other as equals， as long as there is mutual trust and mutual benefit， the relationship between our two countries will definitely progress to a new level. Thank you.
Thank you very much indeed， Premier Wen. We'll take some questions.
Prime Minister， you brought up the subject of human rights with the Chinese. Has that been made more difficult for you to do， given the human rights abuses alleged in the Red Cross document which we now have. And who in the British Government got this document， and when did they get it please？
In respect of the Red Cross document - and Geoff Hoon will make a full statement on that later today - I have not seen this document. But let me make it clear to you my understanding is the two issues that are raised by the Red Cross document in respect of abuses of Iraqi prisoners， there's one specific case， and one issue， and both were actually dealt with. So， with the greatest respect， what we have to do is if allegations are made against British soldiers， we investigate them. We take action. But I hope， as I have constantly tried to say to people over these past few days， that whatever has happened in respect of the minority - a small minority of people - should not detract from the work that British troops are doing in Basra helping ordinary Iraqi people， and if you speak to the Iraqis themselves they would pay tribute to the work that British troops are doing. So， as I say， the sequence of when the report came to us and all the rest of it， Geoff can deal with that this afternoon， but my understanding is that both of the issues were already being dealt with by the proper authorities.
Prime Minister I am a journalist from CCTV in China. From your introduction we understand that the relationship between the two countries is very good. We've been here for a couple of days. We feel that the public and the media in this country don't understand Chinese and China very well， so what do you think the UK should do in order to help？
Well， I think the most important thing to get a better understanding here and elsewhere of what China is about is to try and explain to people not just the strength of the commercial relationship， but the fact that we now have around about 60，000 Chinese students here in this country， there are many cultural exchanges， there's a vibrant Chinese community here in Britain today， and the political relationship， not just between Britain and China， but between China and the outside world， is in stronger and better shape than it has been for many decades， and I think that is all to the good. What I tried to say when I visited China last year and came back from China I was deeply impressed by the sheer scale of the economic modernisation and the progress China has made and there is no doubt at all that China is already and will only be an even greater force in the world and in my view the Chinese Government are making the right changes in the economy and in their relations with the outside world in order to improve the understanding that people have of China.
Prime Minister， do you think many people may be surprised and shocked that you haven't yourself seen the Red Cross report which has been with the government for some months. In the light of its findings of brutality and breaches of the Geneva Convention by British troops， how do you assess the damage that has been done to you personally and to the government. And in the context of these talks with the Chinese， to what extent has your own moral authority in raising human rights issues been undermined.
Well we have raised the issue of human rights with our Chinese colleagues as we always do， and I explained that in my opening statement. The Red Cross report is not a report to the government and in any event， as I have just pointed out， in respect of the two specific items - as I understand it. I haven't seen this report but there are two specific items in it. One is in respect of a particular practice. The other is in respect of a particular individual. My understanding is that both issues have been dealt with properly， and that is what should happen. It's not the government that will investigate these issues. It is for the proper authorities to investigate them， and they did investigate them， but I hope when you carry what I have just said you also carry the other side of what is happening in Iraq which is British troops， sometimes risking their lives， to help people in Iraq and British troops who will have been as scandalised and appalled at these allegations and stories of mistreatment as anybody else. But it is not fair to say that the whole of British troops are engaged in such practices when as is evident， as I understand it from the Red Cross report， this is about a particular practice and a particular individual case， both of which were looked into and any allegation that is made is looked into.
The two leaders have talked about the meeting. We would very much like to know whether you talked about the European Union giving full market economy status to China. I don't know what the UK position is on the matter and I don't know whether from the Chinese point of view this market economy status has any particular impact on the future development of the economic relations between the two countries. I would like to know the view of the Prime Minister and what you would do specifically， not as …… the EU， to recognise the market economy status for China.
China should be prepared …… whether the issue of giving China a full market economic status was mentioned in your talks. And if this issue was mentioned， what was the British response. And from the Chinese perspective that actually some kind of arrangement or solution will boost the economic co-operation and trade between China and the European Union and if this full market status was given， or will be given， what will be the economic implications.
I would also like to ask Prime Minister Tony Blair what is your stance on this issue， and what kind of specific efforts do you have in mind to help facilitate a solution to the issue.
We talked about it. …… the weapons embargo and giving China the status of market economy is the time we are eligible for that. I think that resolving these two issues is not only a good thing for China， but also to Europe， to the two peoples. Prime Minister Tony Blair made positive statements.
You would like me to respond. On the market economy status I hope very much that we get a successful outcome to this for China and I know the Commission are due to make a report soon. I hope there's a successful result of the discussions that are taking place with the Commission at the moment and certainly we will give China every support in that endeavour. It's important for China， but it's also important for the outside world too.
Prime Minister， who are we to talk to the Chinese about human rights when we are in active Coalition， who have detained without trial， without access to lawyers， often in inhuman and we now know in degrading conditions， both in Iraq and in other places in the world， what right do we then have to question the Chinese about human rights， and Prime Minister of China， given China's record on human rights， it is perhaps difficult for you to hold the Coalition to account， but I wonder， given your objection to the war in the first place， what you now think ought to happen in Iraq？
First of all， let me explain the position to you yet again. If there are allegations of mistreatment made， then those allegations are investigated. The Red Cross report to which you refer does not， as I understand it， say that there is systematic abuse by British soldiers of Iraqi detainees ……
…… 90% of prisoners are in the words of the Red Cross innocent people. It's not just Iraq either. I'm not talking about abuse. I'm talking more about denial to trial， denial of charges， denial of lawyers in many instances across the world.
Excuse me. There is a process that we have to undergo in respect of those that are detained in Iraq， and that is the context in which you are asking me about this. In respect of any other set of allegations， we have already answered those questions and we have answered them time and time again. What we do if there are allegations of abuse in respect of anyone in our detention for whom we are responsible， we investigate it. That is all anyone can reasonably ask. But what it is not true to say is that the Red Cross or anyone else has said that British troops have been carrying out the systematic abuse， or torture or mistreatment of Iraqi detainees or anyone else. And in fairness to the British troops at the same time as we say that if there has been any mistreatment， those cases are utterly appalling and should be investigated and those people responsible should be brought to account. It is fair to point out that the majority of British soldiers will hold exactly the same view about these cases and most of them are there in Basra， in other parts of Iraq， doing their best for Iraqi people.
You actually asked me two questions. The first one is the human rights status in China. The second question is the Chinese view on the issue of Iraq. Regarding the first one， the Chinese Government attaches great importance to the respect and protection of human rights. The …… Constitution has written reports about respect and protection of human rights in order to promote democratic political reform and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law， we are working very hard. At the same time we are promoting the reform of our judicial systems. China is a country with 1.3 billion population. The first priority is to provide food and basic living. You perhaps know about this too. If someone is not able to be economically independent and secure there will be no freedom to talk about. We have spent 25 years to resolve the problem of food for 1.3 billion people and also to provide basic living to 250 million people. The issue we face is the employment for 700 million people. China needs to focus on economic construction and development. Once we have a good country providing a reasonable life for people， all children able to go to school， we need to make sure that residents in urban areas all have employment and basic medical care. I think that is the biggest human rights issue in China.
Secondly regarding Iraq， our position has been very clear. The unstable situation in Iraq we feel very concerned and even worried. We think that the solution to Iraq requires 3 things.
One， we must hand over the government back to the Iraqi people as soon as possible. Secondly， we need to give the UN a leading role in the resolution of the Iraqi issue. At the moment the situation is rather complex. My personal view is that if we give the UN a bigger role it is a key. Certainly Iraq should resume its stability as soon as possible. You can only reconstruct if you have stability. Thank you.