Moscow: UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks on Friday, during which the latter said that Beijing wanted the two nations that currently describe the state of their relations as a “golden era,” to enter into a “diamond era in the relationship,” May’s press service said.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Brussels.
“The two leaders began by discussing the Prime Minister’s successful visit to China earlier this year [January 31-February 2], when she had been joined by a UK trade delegation. They discussed the opportunity to build further upon that visit, and the golden era in UK-China relations. Premier Li said he looked forward to ushering in a diamond era in the relationship,” the press service said in a statement.
May, in turn, updated Li on the Brexit talks, adding that “she looked forward to further strengthening our economic ties with China, including our trade relationship, in the future.”
She also stressed “the importance of freedom of navigation and maritime security.”
The sides also reiterated commitment to the so-called one country, two systems principle on Hong Kong.
The “golden era” in UK-Chinese relations was mutually proclaimed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United Kingdom in 2015. After the 2016 Brexit referendum, the UK government put even more emphasis on economic relations with non-EU countries.
Under the May government, London has been actively promoting the Global Britain strategy, stressing multiple opportunities that the withdrawal from the bloc could open for the country, which will be able to strike its own trade deals. Boosting trade and economic ties with emerging economies is supposed to be one of London’s key priorities.