Theresa May in talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping

Theresa May has met President Xi Jinping for talks on the second day of her visit to China.

At a joint press conference with Mr Xi, Mrs May said Britain and China were enjoying a “golden era” in their relationship.

And she wanted to “take further forward the global strategic partnership that we have established”.

The UK prime minister is in China at the head of a 50-strong business delegation.

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 North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

After shaking hands for the cameras, Mrs May and Mr Xi were seated with their delegations on opposite sides of a large conference table at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

Mrs May hailed improved trading links between the two nations since Mr Xi’s state visit to Britain in 2015.

She added: “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.”

Image captionTheresa May outside the British Embassy in Beijing

Mrs May is understood to have raised environmental issues with Mr Xi – and she presented him with a box-set of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series, with a personal message from presenter Sir David Attenborough.

The show examined the effect of human behaviour on the environment and was referenced by Mrs May last month when she pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042 as part of a 25-year green strategy.

Warm words

On the first day of her trip the prime minister announced a UK-China effort to strengthen international action against the illegal trade in ivory.

After meeting Mrs May in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China would further open up its markets to the UK, including to agricultural products and financial services.

UK-China trade is currently worth a £59bn a year and Mrs May has said she expects deals worth a further £9bn to be signed during the course of her visit.

One of the UK companies travelling with the PM, health-tech firm Medopad, has said it signed more than £100m of commercial projects and partnerships with organisations including China Resources, GSK China, Peking University and Lenovo.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the prime minister would want to build on the warm words from China when she meets Mr Xi, amid pressure on her from her own party and Brussels in recent days.

Fox urges Tories to focus on the ‘big picture’

By Laura Kuenssberg, political editor

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is in China and wants his restive colleagues at home to focus on the big picture.

Listing the number of deals that have been done already this week during the prime minister’s visit he told me that building levels of trade with China is a real “success story”.

No 10 is confident that by the end of this marathon trip well over £9bn of new contracts will have been secured – such a high profile political investment edging deals over the line.

Dr Fox accepts it will take some to get trade deals done in the longer term. The UK will be limited not just before Brexit, but also during the transition period, in how much can get done.

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