Theresa May was meeting Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, on the second day of a trade mission which she believes will result in commercial deals worth as much as £9 billion.
Mrs May and premier Li Keqiang agreed on Wednesday on a new trade and investment review which is seen as a stepping stone to a full free trade agreement after Brexit.
And Mr Li promised Beijing will further open up its markets to the UK, including to agricultural products and financial services.
Following talks in the Chinese capital with Mr Li, the Prime Minister said they had agreed to intensify the so-called “golden era” in their bilateral relationship.
She told a joint news conference that with UK-China trade currently worth a record £59 billion a year, she expected deals worth a further £9 billion to be signed during the course of her three-day visit.
Mr Li said their talks had delivered “substantive results” and that their bilateral relationship would not be affected by Britain’s impending withdrawal from the EU. “We will work to maintain the continued growth in our bilateral relations to take forward our relationship in the golden era,” he said.
“The two-way opening up between China and the UK will go even further and China will open even wider to the UK.
Talks with Mr Xi on Thursday are expected to focus on international issues, including the continued defiance of the international community by North Korean Kim Jong-Un over his nuclear and ballistic missile programme.
Mrs May was also expected to highlight environmental issues, presenting the Chinese leader with a box-set copy of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series, with a specially written message from presenter Sir David Attenborough.
Talks yesterday covered a wide range of issues including human rights, the protection of intellectual property rights and overcapacity in the international steel market, with China committed to a 200 million tonne cut in its steel production between 2016 and 2020.
Theresa May inspects a ceremonial guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with Chinese premier Li Keqiang (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The two leaders said that they had also agreed to co-operate more closely on the United Nations Security Council to uphold world peace and the international rules-based order, including in relation to North Korea.
“We agree that its pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes is illegal, reckless and poses an unacceptable threat to international security,” Mrs May said.
The Prime Minister the Chinese had agreed to make progress over the course of the next six months on lifting the BSE ban on British beef exports as well as allowing a broader range of UK dairy products, which Number 10 said could be worth £500 million over five years.
Theresa May and her husband Philip arrive in Beijing (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Mrs May said the UK was a “natural partner” for President Xi’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative to establish overland transport links between China and Europe, and they would be discussing how best they could co-operate on the project while maintaining international standards.
British officials made clear that the PM was concerned about how open the civil engineering projects linked to the initiative would be to bids from companies in the UK. But they stressed that Britain’s stance towards the massive infrastructure project was positive.
Theresa May looks out over the Yangtze River in the Chinese city of Wuhan (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
UK-based health-tech Artificial Intelligence company Medopad announced over £100 million of commercial projects and partnerships in China.
Medopad has signed 15 trade deals, with leading Chinese organisations including China Resources, GSK China, Peking University, Lenovo, Ping An Good Doctor and UMP Healthcare.
The company’s chief executive Dan Vahdat said: “We are honoured to announce collaborations and projects with leading Chinese and international healthcare, technology, academic and corporate partners.
“Together we will work to improve patient care in China and around the world, and we look forward to our technology and AI capabilities contributing a small part towards China’s healthcare reform goals.”