Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

Chinese prime minister visits UK

Mr Wen arrives at Heathrow Airport
Mr Wen's visit will focus on financial matters

The Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, has arrived in London for a three-day trip to the UK.

Talks are expected to focus on the global financial downturn; both the UK and China are keen to boost their economic ties with each other.

The Free Tibet protest group said it was planning a number of demonstrations during the visit.

Mr Wen's European tour also includes Germany, Spain, the EU in Brussels and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The prime minister is expected to join celebrations in London on Sunday marking the start of the Chinese New Year.

He will also make a speech at the University of Cambridge, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

'Troubled times'

BBC News correspondent Jill McGivering said Mr Wen is expected to promote China's economic prospects and push for more investment from the UK.

She said: "These are troubled times - and Britain and China are sticking together.

"Gordon Brown sees China as a powerful ally as he presses for reform of international financial bodies.

"And China's economy - expected to grow at about 7% this year - is very attractive to British investors."

She added that Mr Wen would be seeking reassurance that the UK will join China's fight against global protectionism.

This is when governments restrict import quotas in a bid to protect domestic industries from global competition - but China says this is damaging to its export trade.

The visit follows an announcement earlier this month by Foreign Secretary David Miliband that improving relations with China is to be a "major priority" for the UK in the years ahead.

'Candid'

In a 20-page framework document Mr Miliband said the UK will be "candid" when it disagrees with China, but will build a relationship based on co-operation

He also stressed the importance of economic ties between the two countries and emphasised China's growing role in international affairs.

The document represents a sort of stock-taking of ties between London and Beijing and sets out aspirations for the way in which Sino-UK ties should develop over the next four years.

Mr Wen has snubbed France during his European tour, reportedly because of a meeting between President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama late last year.

China reacted at the time by cancelling a scheduled summit with the EU.



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