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from Breakingviews:

Britain can gain from China’s empire builders

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Britain once had nothing to offer China but silver and opium. Now it has holidays, banks and building sites. George Osborne, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, and London’s mayor Boris Johnson are using visits to Beijing to say just how welcoming the UK is likely to be. It’s a triumph of openness, and provided the UK chooses its partners carefully and the Chinese are tactful, both sides will benefit.

Simpler visa rules, and Chinese funding for landmark building projects, are easy to like. Overall Chinese tourist spending, according to Barclays, grew an annual 22 percent in the second quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, property developers are putting their ambition, and their access to credit, behind redevelopment of Royal Albert Dock and the Crystal Palace in London and the Manchester Airport complex. It is hard to see how these initiatives pose threats to sovereignty, or security. They will help Britain fund its trade and budget deficits, however, and may lead to more useful investments, say in high-speed rail.

Banks are more contentious. China’s lenders want to set up branches rather than the subsidiaries most of them run today. This would let them take their parent banks’ capital into account. In return, the UK may win a bigger role trading China’s currency. London may get more finance jobs. Yet questions remain about how Chinese banks would behave in a crisis. State lenders and regulators answer to the ruling Communist Party. In the pecking order, foreigners come close to the bottom.

from Tales from the Trail:

Special Relationship? How quickly they forget….

So much for "Hilly-Milly".

Just last year U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gushed to Vogue magazine about  former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband,  calling the young diplomat a dashing addition to the international scene. AFGHANISTAN/

"Well, if you saw him it would be a big crush. I mean, he is so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart. He's really a good guy. And he's so young!" Clinton said in remarks that provoked a spate of joking British tabloid headlines about the new "special relationship" between the United States and Britain.

Vive the entente — until July

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anglo1.jpgCommentators are revelling in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s effusive praise of Britain and drooling over the fashion sense of his wife but several see stormier waters ahead — specifically in the second half of the year from July when France takes over the presidency of the European Union.

Leader writers see problems in the two countries’ approach to Europe, particularly over France’s desire for closer European defence co-operation and a permanent EU president.

Vive la difference?

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eiffel1.jpgThe entente hasn’t been quite so cordiale for some time, judging by a ragbag of pointers in the newspapers over recent weeks.

Young French people are coming to live and work in London in record numbers, it seems, to the extent there’s now even an area named after them, in the manner of Little Italy or Kangaroo Valley. The fact that it’s rather rudely called Frog Alley should not diminish the importance of this significant milestone.

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