Theresa May to tackle Xi Jinping on steel dumping and human rights during China trip

Posted On: 
31st January 2018

Theresa May has vowed to challenge Chinese premier Xi Jinping on human rights concerns and steel dumping during a mission to boost trade and investment with China after Brexit.

Theresa and Philip May watch a Chinese opera in Wuhan
PA Images

The Prime Minister said her trip would “intensify the golden era in UK-China relations" and announced new education links as she flew to the nation for a three-day trip.

She is leading a 50-strong business delegation including the likes of BP and Jaguar Land Rover, plus representatives from a number of small firms and universities.

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Writing in the Financial Times ahead of her arrival, Mrs May accepted that the UK and China did not see “eye-to-eye” on a range of issues.

She vowed to “look at what more can be done to tackle global overcapacity in sectors such as steel” and ensure infrastructure investment adhered to “international standards”.

During her journey she said she would “raise human rights and the issue of Hong Kong” and defend the “one country, two systems” approach to the former British colony in talks with President Xi.

She is also expected to raise the issues of North Korea and climate change in her head-to-head with the Chinese leader.


Elsewhere, Mrs May announced plans to extend a maths teacher exchange programme and a campaign to promote English language learning in China.

The package of new education links also includes deals worth more than £550m, which it is claimed will create 800 jobs in the UK.

On her first stop in Wuhan in Central China - which boasts the largest student population in the world - Mrs May said the new agreements would "enable more children and more young people than ever to share their ideas about our two great nations".

And she added: "I want that future to work for Britain, which is why, during my visit, I'll be deepening co-operation with China on key global and economic issues that are critical to our businesses, to our people, and to what the UK stands for."

Former Prime Minister David Cameron forged strong ties with China during his premiership and signed multi-billion pound deals with President Xi for a range of UK infrastructure and other projects.