February 25, 2018

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British prime minister to visit China on January 31

31 January 2018

May began her visit in the central industrial city of Wuhan and will be in China until Friday in what the Chinese foreign ministry has touted as a "historic visit". "The depth of our relationship means we can have frank discussions on all issues".

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Britain in 2015, he said that bilateral ties between China and Britain had entered a "golden era".

More than 50 companies and lobbying groups - from tea maker Whittard of Chelsea to bank giant HSBC - will accompany the PM on a three-day visit to the Far East superpower.

"There are huge trade opportunities in China that we want to help British businesses take advantage of".

Later on Wednesday, May will head to Beijing, where she will meet Premier Li Keqiang.

May will also take the opportunity to discuss a wide range of other issues, including climate change and North Korea, but she was also under pressure to address the political situation in former colony Hong Kong and human rights abuses in mainland China.

"For a global trading nation like the United Kingdom it is doubly important, which is why I'm travelling to China at a crucial moment in the history of both our countries".

In response to questions over how a "Global U.K." can link with the Belt and Road Initiative, the Ambassador said: "We would like to collaborate on practical projects, whereby now Chinese companies are working on over 90 percent of projects but there are British companies very keen to develop their partnerships which already exist with Chinese companies and take them into the third countries along the Belt and Road". May's office said it was "vital" that the "impressive" project meets worldwide standards, adding that she looked forward to discussing it with the Chinese government.

"In the past five years, Hong Kong has seen increasing threats to the basic freedoms, human rights and autonomy which the people were promised at the handover just over 20 years ago", they wrote.

With Brexit about to plunge Britain into its most significant economic upheaval since World War Two, relations with China are set to become increasingly important as May's government looks to develop markets outside the EU.

Mrs May said new agreements signed on her trip would "enable more children and more young people than ever to share their ideas about our two great nations", helping to ensure that "our golden era of co-operation will endure for generations to come".

In preparation, a parade of British officials travelled to China in recent months.

Finance minister Philip Hammond worked on final preparations for a "stock connect" linking the London and Shanghai exchanges, and mulled the possibility of connecting their bond markets as well.

British prime minister to visit China on January 31