Britain wants closer cooperation with China over its landmark Belt and Road infrastructure scheme, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday (December 15) at the start of a Beijing trip on which he hopes to seal a billion pounds ($1.34 billion) in deals.
Hammond’s comment came during his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of the People.
Hammond’s visit, the latest installment in long-running economic talks between the two nations, it has taken on new importance for Britain as it looks to re-invent itself as a global trading nation after leaving the European Union in 2019.
President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative aims to recreate the old Silk Road with massive infrastructure projects to connect China to Europe and beyond.
China is one of the countries with which Britain hopes to sign a free trade pact once it leaves the EU. London and Beijing have been keen to show that Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc will not affect ties.