The United Kingdom recognized the People's Republic of China in 1950, and was the first major Western country to do so. On June 17, 1954, the UK and China established diplomatic relations at the level of charge d'affaires, which were upgraded to the ambassadorial level on March 13, 1972.The following three decades witnessed positive and stable development in overall China-UK relations despite some twists and turns. After the smooth handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty to China in July, 1997, the bilateral relations entered a new stage of comprehensive development. In 1998, China and the UK established the comprehensive partnership. In 2004, the two countries established the comprehensive strategic partnership.
In recent years, the UK has attached greater importance to advancing relations with China and seen the rise of China from a pragmatic perspective; It works for deeper cooperation with China and hopes to see China play a greater role in international affairs. The two countries have maintained frequent high-level exchanges and contacts, and have established the prime ministerial-level annual meeting mechanism, the economic and financial dialogue, the bilateral relations interaction groups, the strategic dialogue and the mechanisms for consultation and dialogue on strategic security, foreign policy, human rights and arms control. In January 2009, the British Government issued its first China strategy paper, "The UK and China: A Framework for Engagement", which listed China as "a major priority" in the UK's future foreign policy.
In 1998, Premier Zhu Rongji and Prime Minister Tony Blair exchanged visits. The two sides issued a joint statement to announce the establishment of the comprehensive partnership between China and the UK. In 1999, President Jiang Zemin paid a successful visit to the UK. This was the first state visit ever made by China's head of state to the UK. In 2003, the two sides respectively set up bilateral relations interaction groups to further enhance the bilateral relations and deepen cooperation in various fields. In May 2004, Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to the UK. The two sides issued a joint statement to announce the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the UK, to agree to establish a mechanism for annual meeting between the Premier and Prime Minister and to identify priority fields of cooperation between the two countries.
In July 2005, President Hu Jintao attended the G8 outreach session in the UK. In September, Prime Minister Tony Blair paid a visit to China, during which the two countries decided to establish a strategic dialogue mechanism. In November, President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the UK at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In September 2006, Primer Wen Jiabao paid a working visit to the UK. In October, Jia Qinglin, Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, paid an official goodwill visit to the UK. In December 2007, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited the UK. In January 2008, Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid his first official visit to China. In August the same year, Prime Minister Brown attended the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.
In January 2009, Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to the UK, during which the two sides issued the Joint Statement between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Strengthening Cooperation, and Actively Dealing with the International Financial Crisis, and signed seven agreements covering various fields such as trade, energy and culture. In April, President Hu Jintao attended the Second Financial Summit of G20 Leaders in London and met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Prince Charles, reaching extensive consensus on the international financial crisis, the promotion of the reform in the international financial system and the development of China-UK relations. In May, Vice Premier Wang Qishan paid an official visit to the UK and presided over the Second China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue. The two sides made in-depth discussions on the financial issues of mutual concern that have overarching, strategic and long-term impacts and reached over 20 agreements. In October, State Councillor Dai Bingguo paid a visit to Britain and met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Head of UK's China Relations Group and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and the Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
In January 2010, when attending the International Conference on Afghanistan in London, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held a bilateral meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and both sides stressed the need to ensure that the bilateral relations develop along the right track. In March, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband paid a visit to China and met with Premier Wen Jiabao. The two sides agreed to upgrade the China-UK strategic dialogue. State Councilor Dai Bingguo chaired the new round of strategic dialogue with Miliband and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held a meeting with him. In April, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sent a letter of condolences to President Hu Jintao over the occasion of the earthquake in Yushu, Qinghai.In June, President Hu Jintao met with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 Toronto Summit. The two sides agreed to further deepen the relations between the two countries and expand China-UK cooperation in bilateral and international affairs. In the same month, Vice Premier Wang Qishan met with British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who was on a visit to CHina before attending the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting in the ROK. In July, Foreign Secretary William Hague visited China and Premier Wen Jiabao met with him. State Councilor Dai Bingguo co-chaired the China-UK Strategic Dialogue with Secretary Hague and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held a meeting with him. Secreatary Hague expressed the hope of the UK to further deepen the UK-China partnership, to strengthen cooperation in various fields and to expand common interests and proposed the establishment of a "partnership for growth" between China and the UK. He reiterated that the new British government will continue to pursue the policy of the previous government on Taiwan and Tibet and recognise Tibet as part of the Chinese territory. In August, Henry Bellingham MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, issued a statement to offer sympathies to those affected in the devastating mudslide in Zhouqu, Gansu Province and floods in parts of China. In September, Prince Andrew, British Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, attended the British Pavilion Day events at the Shanghai World Expo and was met by Vice Premier Wang Qishan.