China premier in UK visit to boost trade ties

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014
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LONDON (AP) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived Monday in Britain for a visit that includes an unusual meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and talks aimed at boosting fragile diplomatic relations.

The three-day visit — Li's first since he became premier 15 months ago — is expected to focus on trade and investment cooperation in areas including nuclear power, high-speed railways and finance. It will also aim to rebuild political ties that have cooled since Prime Minister David Cameron met with the Dalai Lama in 2012.

Writing in The Times newspaper, Li said one of the goals of his trip was to "present the real China so as to change misperceptions and ease misgivings."

Officials have indicated that trade, not thorny political issues, will drive Li's visit. As part of efforts to smooth ties, Britain's Home Office announced Monday that it is launching a service to grant Chinese visitors visas within 24 hours. Businesses and tour agents have been clamoring for Britain's strict visa rules to be relaxed, saying they are turning away valuable Chinese business.

Relations between the two countries have gradually improved after Cameron led a major trade mission to China in December, signing trade deals and attempting to ease the diplomatic strain since he met with the Tibetan spiritual leader — a move that Beijing said amounted to supporting Tibet's independence from Chinese rule.

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