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British foreign secretary in Beijing to prepare for President Xi's visit

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-14 11:37

BEIJING - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Beijing on Thursday to prepare for President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK in autumn.

Xi will visit Britain in October at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II. This is the first visit by a Chinese president in a decade and the most important event in bilateral ties this year.

"This visit will guide the long-term development of China-Britain ties and is of great significance," Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi said, while co-chairing a strategic dialogue with Hammond on Thursday.

China is willing to work with Britain to move the relationship to a new level, tap new potentials for practical cooperation and set a new model for international cooperation, Yang said.

"China and Britain will likely upgrade their relationship and sign big deals during President Xi's trip," said Cui Hongjian, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies.

The tour is viewed as a milestone in bilateral ties, following Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Britain in June 2014 and Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to China in November 2013.

China-Britain relations suffered following Cameron's 2012 meeting with the Dalai Lama, who is described by the Chinese government as "a political exile engaged in secessionist activities".

Now, however, with the political differences narrowed, both countries are looking to cooperate further on areas such as climate change, trade and security. As a leader in the green economy and environmental protection, Britain has a lot to offer China, especially ahead of an upcoming climate summit in Paris later this year, experts said.

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