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Xi open to trade deal while staying 'patient' over Hinkley

The issue of Hinkley Point was not explicitly mentioned in talks between Theresa May and Xi Jinping. Credit: PA

Chinese president Xi Jinping has hinted he is willing to remain patient over the Hinkley nuclear project as he raised the prospect of a major free trade deal between the UK and China in private talks with Theresa May.

A Number 10 official said Mr Xi understood why the new Prime Minister felt the need to take a fresh look at agreements made by David Cameron's administration, which saw her surprisingly delay the Chinese-backed Hinkley Point plant.

Although the project was not mentioned in the talks after the G20 summit, the official said President Xi "recognised the new Government would need to take some time before reaching decisions on some agreements pushed by the last government".

"President Xi said that they had the patience to wait for a resolution on those issues," the official added. "He said that they wanted to look at how we could strengthen our trading and economic relationship and that China was open to a bilateral trade arrangement with the UK."

Mrs May said she was hoping to visit China next year as President Xi welcomed her commitment to continuing what she described as a "golden era" in relations with Beijing.

Downing Street said the 30-minute meeting was "warm" with Mr Xi even commending the UK on Team GB's second-placed finish above China in the Rio Olympics' medals table.

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May: UK will make the most of Brexit opportunities

Theresa May holding a cabinet meeting at Chequers on Wednesday. Credit: PA

Brexit will give British businesses the chance to find new markets and opportunities around the world, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.

Mrs May's comments come ahead of this weekend's G20 summit of leading global economies in China, where she will tell fellow leaders the UK is "open for business".

The prime minister was speaking in the West Midlands, where she joined Chancellor Philip Hammond on a visit to Warwick University's new research and innovation facilities and vehicle manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

This country has always been one of the greatest trading nations, and as we leave the European Union we will have the opportunity to embrace new markets and opportunities as we export British innovation and expertise to the world.

I am determined to make the most of the opportunities Brexit presents - delivering the change that people want and striking the right deal for British businesses at home and abroad.

– Theresa May

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