Xi Jinping told Theresa May he is open to bilateral trade deal

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.PHOTO: REUTERS

HANGZHOU (REUTERS) - Chinese President Xi Jinping told British Prime Minister Theresa May he was open to a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries, a British official told reporters at the G20.

"Xi 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," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The official also said Xi had told May that China would remain patient while her government gets to grips with decisions taken by her predecessor.

Since taking office, May has delayed a decision on whether to back a nuclear project at Hinkley Point that is being partly financed by the Chinese. "He 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."

Asked whether that was a reference to Hinkley Point, the official said it was implicit that Xi was referencing decisions of that nature, but that Hinkley was not specifically mentioned.