LONDON, Feb 2: Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged on Monday to haul Britain out of its current downturn by doubling exports to China over the next 18 months, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao at Downing Street.

During talks with Mr Wen to try to establish a common position for dealing with the world economic crisis, Mr Brown said he was also keen to promote trade between the two countries.

Mr Brown announced a new two-year programme to help British companies market their products in China and also to make British patent system more effective.

According to the Guardian, the prime minister said the four-trillion-yuan (£400bn) fiscal stimulus package announced by the Beijing authorities in November would create huge opportunities for British exports to China, particularly in the low-carbon technologies of the future.

Speaking alongside the Chinese premier at a business conference in London, Mr Brown said his target was to increase British exports to China from $5 billion in 2008 to $10 billion in 2010.

“I believe that there is much scope for trade and investment to expand between our two countries even in these most difficult of times for the global economy,” Mr Brown said.

Chinese officials say Mr Wen’s visit is intended to prepare for April’s G-20 summit of leading and emerging economies in London, and to show support for Britain’s stance against protectionism.

Meanwhile, in an interview to the Financial Times on Sunday, the Chinese prime minister pledged to take all necessary measures to stimulate its economy and fuel consumer spending, but he rejected as ‘ridiculous’ suggestions that its huge pool of domestic savings was partly to blame for the global financial crisis.

Although Mr Wen declined to rule out Chinese currency’s devaluation, he stressed that Beijing intended to keep its currency stable at a “balanced and reasonable level”. He added: “Many people have not come to see this point … If we have a drastic fluctuation in the exchange rate of the renminbi, it would be a big disaster.”

The Chinese premier took a studiously neutral view on future purchases of US Treasury bills this year.

While China needed reserves for domestic purposes, it was also keen to maintain the value of its existing dollar holdings, Mr Wen said.

He also played down hopes that Beijing would be ready to use its reserves to lend more to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to tackle the crisis. Reform of these institutions was the first priority, Mr Wen said.

Agencies add: China called for urgent coordinated action to avoid a global economic catastrophe, even as fresh splits emerged within the European Union on dealing with the spiralling crisis.

“When bubbles burst, the world is exposed to disaster,” AFP quoted the Chinese premier as saying.

“This financial crisis is a global one. No single country can remain immune and address this in isolation. We are sitting in the same boat and we need to all work together to overcome the difficulties,” he said.

Later, during an address by Mr Wen Jiabao in Cambridge University, a man hurled a shoe at him.

According to Reuters, the shoe landed on the stage about a metre from Mr Wen.

Mr Wen hesitated for a few moments in his speech before continuing speaking.

About 80 people, both supporters and critics of China, had earlier gathered outside the venue.