London, Oct 20 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, has arrived in London for a state visit to Britain at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II, the media reported on Tuesday.
The president and his wife arrived at Heathrow airport at 8.00 p.m. on Monday. The couple were greeted by Viscount Hood and also by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, the Global Times reported.
“China attaches great importance to growing relations with the United Kingdom,” the president said in a written statement upon arrival.
“To deepen China-UK relationship is in the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples and meets the trend of the times,” he said.
Xi noted that this year marks the start of the second decade of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and hoped to have in-depth exchange of views with British leaders on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues.
Xi’s state visit, which will conclude on Friday, is the first by a Chinese president since 2005.
Xi will hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and address a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Besides London, Xi is also scheduled to make a trip to Manchester, where he will attend a banquet and visit research projects and local businesses.
Tony Blair, former British prime minister, said earlier that Britain is “enthusiastic” about developing the ties with China even further and making sure that next decade is a golden decade, noting that most people in Britain support a strong relationship with China.
“I expect President Xi’s visit will strengthen the relationships still further between Britain and China at the political level, at the economic level and at the people-to-people level,” Blair said.
However, Amnesty International and other groups have announced their intention to hold protests during the visit over censorship and human rights violations in China.
It is also expected that there will also be a pro-China rally.