Theresa May has met President Xi Jinping in Beijing in the diplomatic high point of her three-day trip to China.
Seated opposite President Xi in the opulent Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Mrs May said Britain and China were enjoying a “golden era” in their relationship, and added that she wanted to “take further forward the global strategic partnership that we have established”.
And she said there were issues on the global stage where the UK and China can ”work together” as permanent members of the UN Security Council and fellow “outward-looking countries”.
Theresa May met President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guest House (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
With Mrs May’s discussions with Premier LI Keqiang on Wednesday largely given over to trade and Brexit, the talks with Mr Xi were due to focus on global issues, including the nuclear ambitions of China’s neighbour North Korea.
Shortly before her encounter with Mr Xi, the PM learned that she had been granted the affectionate nickname “Auntie May” by some Chinese.
An interviewer on TV network CCTV told her: “That’s really a kind of a call for Chinese – you’re one of the members of the family.”
Mrs May took time out from her round of official meetings to tour the Forbidden City – former home of China’s emperors – with husband Philip.
And Mr May enjoyed a cultural programme laid on by their hosts, including a trip to the Great Wall.
Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband, Philip, visited the Forbidden City in Beijing (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Commercial deals worth a total of £9 billion have been signed during the trip, Downing Street said.
They are understood to include £1 billion in financial services agreements, a £750 million deal by energy giant BP and a scheme by a Chinese e-commerce outlet to sell £2 billion of UK goods over the next two years.
Mrs May told the Chinese president that the trade side of her visit had been “very successful”.
And she added: “The links between us go beyond trade. I’m very pleased with the people-to-people links we have been able to build on in education and in culture too.
“Also, as you say, we are both significant players on the world stage of outward looking countries.
“And as we both sit together as permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations, there are global challenges which we both face, as do others in the world.
“As you say, there are areas in which we can work together.”