Press release

UK Minister promotes diplomatic outreach in China

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

FCO Minister Hugo Swire has started a two-day visit to China to strengthen the UK-China relationship.

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Mr Swire will also explore opportunities for British business in China’s regional cities. This is his second visit to the country.

He will spend the first day of his visit in Beijing, where he will hold a range of meetings with Chinese government officials. He will meet Mr Li Baodong, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they will discuss UK-China bilateral relations as well as wider foreign policy issues. Mr Swire will also meet Mr Wang Guangya, Director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.

In recognition of Britain’s commitment to develop links with China’s regional cities and inland provinces, Minister Swire will then visit Xi’An, where he will lead a delegation of British companies interested in developing their links with the city. The delegation consists of representatives of British expertise in hi-tech science and engineering, as well as education institutions. Minister Swire will host a reception to introduce the business delegation to potential local partners. He will also promote the new UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership (Newton Fund), worth £200m over the next five years.

Mr Swire will also meet Xi’An municipal leaders before paying a visit to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors. Here he will highlight the importance of UK-China educational and cultural collaboration - not least through the British Council’s “Connecting Classrooms” programme, which has linked schools in Warrington and Cheshire with schools in Xi’An itself.

He said:

I’m delighted to return to China at this exciting time in our relationship. The British government is committed to forming a long-term partnership with China, and especially with China’s dynamic and fast-growing inland provinces. This is why we have increased the number of diplomats with a licence to travel throughout China. They have a remit to travel to rapidly developing cities right across the country, building new links in the UK-China relationship, and opening up new opportunities for British business.

The UK, with strengths in education, services and high-technology, as well as our culture of creativity and innovation, is a natural partner for China as it advances along the current path of economic and social reform.

The Minister’s visit takes place concurrently with the official UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in London today and tomorrow. The annual talks alternate between China and the UK, and are an opportunity for open and frank discussion on issues of concern.

Following his time in Xi’An, Mr Swire will leave China for Mongolia, where he will discuss UK business opportunities as well as opportunities for more collaborative work on cultural and social projects.

Further information

Follow Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire on twitter @HugoSwire

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Published 19 May 2014