Friday 20 April 2018

Chinese premier's UK visit 'to forge closer ties'

China's President, Xi Jinping reviews an honour guard yesterday in London.
China's President, Xi Jinping reviews an honour guard yesterday in London.

Tony Jones in London

Chinese president Xi Jinping has arrived in the UK for a state visit expected to herald closer ties between Britain and China.

The pomp and pageantry of the British armed forces' prestigious ceremonial units were on display yesterday to greet the Chinese leader, whose visit has been hailed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron as an "important moment'' in the relations between the two nations.

Mr Xi's four-day trip is expected to set the seal on more than £30bn (€41bn) of trade and investment deals.

But Mr Cameron is facing pressure to raise concerns about China's human rights record, and the "dumping" of cheap steel - which is blamed for the loss of thousand of British steel jobs in the last few days.

Critics have warned that Britain will "rue the day'' it forged deeper ties with China and accused the UK government of acting like a "panting puppy'' in its relations with the country.

But Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond insisted the move was in the national interest.

Commons Speaker John Bercow appeared to obliquely criticise China on the day its president addressed both Houses of Parliament.

Intervening during a question in the Commons comparing the UK's relationships with China and India, ahead of Indian premire Narendra Modi's visit to the UK next month, Mr Bercow said: "And, of course, the Indian prime minister is the representative of a great democracy."

The Speaker is the highest authority in the Commons and represents the chamber to the queen, and after his comment there were audible intakes of breath.

Irish Independent

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