China's President Xi Jinping attends a press conference after a meeting with his Polish counterpart on June 20, 2016 in the presidential palace in Warsaw. / AFP / JANEK SKARZYNSKI
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China is paying attention to Britain's referendum on membership of the European Union and while it respects the people's choice, Beijing hopes to see a strong and stable EU, the Chinese government said Thursday as Britons headed to the polls.Though China and Britain have a history of disputes over human rights and the future of the former British colony of Hong Kong, diplomats say export-reliant China values Britain as a strong advocate for free trade within the EU and the bloc as an important counterweight to the United States.One of China's most influential and widely read newspapers, the Global Times, went further in its view on the referendum, saying that if Britain votes to leave the EU, then the country will lose its influence globally.
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