Relations between China and the United Kingdom

Sino-UK relations are the diplomatic relations established between the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. China has an embassy in London and the United Kingdom has an embassy in Beijing. The two countries are considered great powers, both possess weapons of mass destruction, and are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. See PaulSourcing for China agent in U.K.

Between the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China (1949–present)

The United Kingdom and the National Government of the Republic of China were allies during World War II. Britain sought stability in China after the war to protect its more than £300 million in investments, far more than those of the United States. In the Moscow Agreement of 1945 he agreed not to interfere in Chinese affairs, but sympathized with the Nationalists, who until 1947 were winning the Chinese civil war against the Chinese Communist Party.

However, in August 1948, the victory of the communists caused the British government to begin preparing for a communist takeover of the country. He kept consulates open in communist-controlled areas and rejected Nationalist requests that British citizens assist in the defense of Shanghai. In December, the government concluded that although British property in China would likely be nationalized, British merchants would benefit in the long term from a stable, industrialized Communist China. Maintaining Hong Kong was especially important; Although the Communists promised not to interfere with their government, Britain reinforced the Hong Kong garrison during 1949. When the victorious Communist government declared on October 1, 1949 that it would exchange diplomats with any country that ended relations with the Nationalists, Great Britain—after talks with other Commonwealth members and European countries—formally recognized the People’s Republic of China in January 1950.

  • April 20, 1949: The People’s Liberation Armyattacks HMS Amethyst traveling to the British Embassy in Nanjing in the Amethyst Incident, thus carrying out a rescue mission. The Chinese Communists do not recognize the Unequal Treaties and protest the ship’s right to navigate the Yangtze.
  • January 6, 1950: The United Kingdom recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the government of China and sends an acting chargé d’affaires to Beijing (Peking). The British hope for a quick exchange of ambassadors. However, the People’s Republic demands concessions on the Chinese headquarters in the UN and the foreign assets of the Republic of China.
    • 1950: British companies seeking to trade with the People’s Republic of China form the Group of 48 (now China-Britain Business Council).
    • 1950: British Commonwealth forces in Korea successfully defend Hill 282 against Chinese and North Korean forces in the Battle of Pakchon, part of the Korean War.
    • 1950: The Chinese People’s Volunteer Armydefeats UN forces, including the British at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, part of the Korean War.
  • 1951: Chinese forces clash with UN forces, including the British, at the Battle of the Imjin River.
    • 1951: Attacking Chinese forces outnumbered British Commonwealth forces are held back at the Battle of Kapyong.
    • 1951: British Commonwealth forces successfully capture Hill 317 from Chinese forces at the Battle of Maryang San.
  • 1953: Outnumbered British forces successfully defend Yong Dong against Chinese forces in the Third Battle of the Hook.
  • 1954: The Sino-British Trade Committee is created as a semi-official trade body (later merged with the Group of 48).
    • 1954: A British Labor Partydelegation including Clement Attlee, visits China at the invitation of the then Foreign Secretary, Zhou Enlai. Attlee became the first high-ranking Western politician to meet Mao Zedong.
  • June 17, 1954: Following talks at the Geneva Conference, the People’s Republic of China agrees to post a charge d’affaires in London. The same talks resulted in an agreement to reopen a British office in Shanghai and the granting of exit visas to several British businessmen confined to the mainland since 1951.
  • 1961: The United Kingdom begins voting in the General Assembly in favor of the entry of the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations. He has abstained from voting since 1950.
  • June 1967: Red Guardsstorm the British legation in Beijing and assault three diplomats and a secretary. The PRC authorities refuse to condemn the action. British officials in Shanghai came under attack in a separate incident, when PRC authorities attempted to close the office there.
  • June-August 1967: Riots begin in Hong Kong in 1967. The commander of the Guangzhou Military Region, Huang Yongsheng, secretly suggests invading Hong Kong, but his plan is vetoed by Zhou Enlai.
    • July 1967: Riots continue in Hong Kong, armed Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops shoot at British Hong Kong Police, killing 5 of them.
    • August 23, 1967: A Red Guard mob loots the British legation in Beijing, slightly injuring the chargé d’affaires and other staff, in response to British arrests of communist agents in Hong Kong. A Reuters correspondent, Anthony Gray, was also imprisoned by popular government authorities.
    • August 29, 1967: Armed Chinese diplomats attack British police guarding the Chinese legation in London.
  • March 13, 1972: The People’s Republic grants full recognition to the United Kingdom government, allowing the exchange of ambassadors. The UK recognizes the PRC’s position on Taiwan without accepting it.
  • 1982: During negotiations with Margaret Thatcherover the return of Hong Kong, Deng Xiaoping tells her that China can simply invade Hong Kong. Three decades later (2007) it is revealed that such plans actually existed.
  • 1984: The Sino-British Joint Declarationis signed between the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the PRC.
  • October 12-18, 1986: Queen Elizabeth IImakes a state visit to the People’s Republic, becoming the first British monarch to visit China.
  • June 30-July 1, 1997: Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kongfrom the United Kingdom to China
  • 1997: China and Britain forge a strategic partnership.
  • January 21, 2005: Sino-British relations enter a period of maturity.
  • August 24, 2008: Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlongpresents the Olympic flag to London Mayor Boris Johnson for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
  • October 29, 2008: The United Kingdom recognizes Tibetas an integral part of the People’s Republic of China. Previously, it had only recognized Chinese sovereignty over the region.
  • December 29, 2009: Relations between China and Britain are strained after the execution of Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen who was arrested for drug trafficking. Because he was said to be mentally ill, the Chinese Court was asked to review his sentence.
  • June 26, 2010: China’s supreme leader, Hu Jintao, invites British Prime Minister David Cameron for talks in Beijing, in what appears to be a new beginning for the two nations.
  • July 5, 2010: Both countries commit to closer military cooperation.
  • November 8, 2010: Promise was fulfilled in talks between Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiangand UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne for greater cooperation when they attended the third China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in Beijing.
  • November 9, 2010: Ties between China and the United Kingdom are “in good shape” by then.
  • November 10, 2010: The two nations agree to collaborate more closely with each other.
  • November 25, 2010: Senior military leaders met in Beijing to discuss military cooperation, including the deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, and the chief of staff of the British army.
  • January 9, 2011: Between China and the United Kingdom, relations are off to a good start.
  • January 12, 2011: China and Britain plan to intensify their strategic partnership.
  • June 26, 2011: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits London in order to plan trade between the two countries, which is worth billions of pounds.

Relations between China and the United Kingdom