Chinese President Xi Jinping and the British PM were to discuss how China could help battle international extremism. On Xi's request, the leaders were to enjoy a simple fish and chip supper at a country pub.
On the third day of Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron invited Xi to the official country retreat of Chequers.
Cameron's office said Thursday's talks would focus on international affairs and how China could help battle extremism.
The week has been dominated by news of Chinese investment and financial deals in the City of London. On Thursday, a Chinese shoe company announced it was in talks to buy Britain's iconic toy retailer Hamleys, known for its large shop on Regent Street in central London. The shop first opened in 1760 and was bought by France's Groupe Ludendo in 2012.
During the week, business contracts with China worth almost 40 billion pounds (54.4 billion euros) were announced by Cameron. Also in the pipeline are controversial agreements for China to take a major role innuclear power projects
in Somerset, Suffolk and Essex.
Xi said that China and Britain would collaborate in financial services, rail and energy infrastructure, as well as emerging sectors such as bioenergy, smart cities, information technology and e-commerce. Cameron said Britain sought to be China's "partner of choice" in the West. London is to host more Chinese currency (renminbi) trading following a deal signed to coincide with Xi's state visit.
The Bloomberg business news agency quoted an official with the People's Bank of China as saying the central bank expected London to be the worldwide center for renminbi trading. A study commissioned by Euronext has suggested that China could buy assets on European exchanges worth up to $5 trillion (4.5 trillion euros) in the next five years.
Local media have responded to the raft of deals in humorous fashion, suggesting that Chequers itself might be on the market:
More than $50 billion of money from China has gone into British assets over the last fifteen years, according to estimates from bank Standard Chartered.
Cameron invited Xi out to the Plough and Cadsden pub in Ellesborough near Chequers in the countryside northwest of London, after the Chinese head of state requested a fish and chip supper. The pub offers sea bass and salmon on its menu, with a choice of strawberry and apple crumble, panacotta, creme brulee and lemon merinque pie.
Confucius Peace Prize for Mugabe
There have beenfew statements on human rights
in China during the visit, with Xi fielding just one question from the British media at a Wednesday press conference. On Thursday, China's alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, the Confucius Peace Prize, was awarded to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. The country is a former British colony.
Mugabe was praised by the committee awarding the prize because he had "overcome difficulties of all kinds and has strongly committed himself to constructing his nation's political and economic order, while strongly supporting pan-Africanism and African independence."
Mugabe received only 36 of 76 votes. He was awarded the prize after a meeting of the committee's 13-member review board. Other candidates included Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
jm/msh (Reuters, AP)