Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) has taken his European tour to London with hopes of encouraging British investment in China and reassuring leaders of his country’s economic strength.
During a three-day visit that began on Saturday, Wen will meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who wants to enlist Chinese support for his plans to revive the world economy.
The global economic downturn has heightened tensions between the West and China, which has blamed the financial turmoil on US-style capitalism and its institutions.
Wen has reassured European leaders, however, that China’s economy is stable and strong. His visit to Britain is the last stop on a regional tour that also included Spain, Germany, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and EU headquarters in Brussels.
In London, Wen was to meet Brown and other British political and business leaders. Last year, Brown visited China and said improving relations with Beijing would be a priority for his government.
Brown — who has appointed himself a role in leading efforts to overcome the economic downturn — is seeking agreement among world leaders on how to bolster the global economy before the G20 group of industrialized and emerging nations holds a summit in London in April.
Among Brown’s proposals is a call on cash-rich countries such as China to contribute to an IMF emergency loan fund for struggling economies.
China has resisted, saying it has to focus on its own economy — now slowing after years of rapid growth — rather than bailing out others.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Wen blamed China’s economic woes on US-led Western financial institutions, criticizing “a lack of self-discipline” and “blind pursuit of profit.”
The statements chimed somewhat with Brown’s call for reform of global financial institutions.
The British leader said on Saturday in Davos that organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank were out of date and needed an overhaul.
While in London, Wen also planned to attend a China-Britain business summit and Lunar New Year celebrations.
Wen arrived on Saturday in London from Spain, where he met with King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and signed business deals in banking, telecommunications and other sectors.
Relations between China and the West also remain strained by Western governments’ support for exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who calls for autonomy for Tibet.
Pro-Tibet groups said they would protest during Wen’s visit to Britain.