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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly Visits China

Throughout the visit, Cleverly’s message was clear: the UK must not shy away from engaging with China

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited China on 30 August – the first such visit by a UK Foreign Secretary for over five years – where he met for high-level talks with senior officials from the Chinese government

Mr Cleverly met Chinese Vice President Han Zheng and Chinese Foreign Minister and Director of the Office of the Central Foreign and Affairs Commission Wang Yi in Beijing. For the meeting with Vice President Han, he was accompanied to the Great Hall of the People by the UK’s ambassador to China, HMA Dame Caroline Wilson.

The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly meets with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi for a Bilateral political meeting at the State Guest House, Beijing whilst on an official visit to China. Rory Arnold/No10 Downing Street

During the bilateral meetings, Mr Cleverly reiterated the UK’s approach to China, as set out in the Integrated Review Refresh and his Mansion House Speech earlier this year. He also raised issues such as cyber security, the National Security Law in Hong Kong, the treatment of Uyghur people in Xinjiang Province, and Chinese sanctions against UK politicians.

Xinhua reported that Chinese Vice President Han Zheng said the two sides “should uphold the spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, maintain communication in international and regional affairs, and jointly promote world peace and development.” He also said that the UK and China should create a sound business environment for economic and trade activities and actively explore new growth points for practical cooperation.

The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly and HMA Caroline Wilson leaving the Great Hall of the People after meeting Vice Premier Han Zheng in Beijing. Rory Arnold/No10 Downing Street

Both sides agreed on the key global role of cooperation between the UK and China on important issues such as climate change, disease prevention and response, the development and regulation of AI, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The only way to influence China is to engage with China,” Mr Cleverly stressed in a video shared on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) social channels. “That is why I’m here in Beijing. That is why I am meeting with Chinese ministers. That is why diplomacy is so incredibly important.”

Ahead of meeting Wang Yi, Cleverly chaired a roundtable with CBBC and a group of member companies at the Ambassador’s residence in Beijing. In attendance were representatives from finance, healthcare, automotive, hospitality, professional services and education. The conversation covered China’s current economic challenges, how British business is performing in China, and opportunities to grow trade and investment, as well as issues British companies face doing business in the world’s second-largest market.

Throughout the visit, Cleverly’s message was clear: the UK must not shy away from engaging with China.

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