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"The UK-China Strategic Dialogue is an important opportunity to intensify our cooperation on shared challenges in worldwide affairs, ranging from global free trade to non-proliferation and environmental challenges, under the UK-China Global Partnership and "Golden Era" for UK-China relations", he said. Although relations have improved somewhat recently, they remain touchy due to issues such as Japan's bloody occupation of parts of China in the 1930s and '40s.

As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and Britain should strongly uphold multilateralism, as well as the free trade regime and WTO rules, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday.

Lucia Guo, a former health minister and Hunt's wife, is in fact from China.

"My wife is Japanese - my wife is Chinese".

The newly-appointed foreign secretary began his first official trip on an inauspicious note, telling dignitaries in Beijing: "My wife is Japanese". He said Mr. Wang had made an offer "to open discussions about a possible free trade deal done between Britain and China post Brexit".

The dangers of an unintended no-deal Brexit are being stressed by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as he visits France on Tuesday.

Hunt's error was compounded by the fact that the two countries are "traditional rivals", says the South China Morning Post.

"We do not welcome nor do we accept other countries to interfere in China's domestic affairs", Wang said at a joint news conference.

Mr Hunt travels to Paris for a meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, before heading to Vienna on Wednesday for further Brexit talks where he will again warn of the possibility of an "accidental" exit from the European Union without an agreement.

He met Premier Li Keqiang later in the day.