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Britain urges China to play "full role" in world

LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Britain urged China on Wednesday to play its part on the world stage by helping to tackle the global financial crisis and to combat climate change.

"We need China to play a full role, in partnership with us, if we are to restore confidence, growth and jobs and make real progress towards creating an open, flexible and robust global economy," Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote in a strategy document setting out plans for closer ties with China.

"Cooperation with China is vital to reduce poverty, to resolve conflict, and to develop an effective framework to address climate change," he added.

The document was released a few days before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits London and it explored ways in which Britain could benefit from China's growing economic clout.

China, now the world's third largest economy, was likely to present more opportunities for British business than any other country over the next decade, Brown said.

China's sovereign wealth funds and companies could drive investment into Britain which, for its part, should continue to serve as a hub for trading and services for the Chinese, the document said.

It set a target of having 100 Chinese companies listed on the London Stock Exchange -- around double the current level.

Britain urged China to improve its human rights record and to make progress towards "meaningful autonomy" for its Tibet region.

TRADE TENSIONS

Britain will host the G20 summit of major nations in April as part of efforts to find a coordinated response to the global credit crisis.

It aims to try to convince China of the merits of a market-driven exchange rate policy, to encourage it to support free trade and to help tackle global economic imbalances.

Western nations have been pushing Beijing to let the yuan currency appreciate in the hope that will shrink China's big trade surplus and complement their efforts to revive growth.

Britain urged China to commit to ambitious emissions reduction targets when climate change negotiators meet in Copenhagen in late 2009, in addition to adopting other low-carbon and sustainable development policies.

China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, but a recent slowdown in its rapid economic expansion and more efficient use of energy have helped it to reduce these levels.

Beijing also is hoping to improve air quality permanently after a shutdown of factories and controls on traffic during the Olympics last August helped to clear its notorious smog.

Britain wants to encourage China to participate in multinational initiatives in Africa, and to invest in sustainable development there.

China's influence is rising in Africa, in part because it does not have a colonial legacy and is willing to invest without many strings attached. Africa is an important source of commodities for Chinese industry.

Britain exported goods worth 4.6 billion pounds ($6.32 billion) to China between January and November 2008, and imports totalled 20.7 billion pounds in the same period.

"We want to take the British public with us... to understand how important the relationship is and how improved relations benefit both sides," Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell told reporters in Beijing this week. (Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby in Beijing; editing by Michael Roddy)

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