China cancels trade talks with UK in protest over defence secretary’s speech

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Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua has canceled trade talks with Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond after defense secretary Gavin Williamson threatened to deploy a warship in the Pacific, The Sun newspaper reported on Thursday.

“Hu was due to hold trade talks with Hammond this weekend,’’ it said.

The newspaper said Hu canceled the talks in protest at Williamson’s speech on Monday.

Mr Williamson had said in a fiery speech that Britain must be prepared to boost its “lethality” and threatened to send the warship to the Pacific in response to Beijing’s military ambitions.

“The speech appears to have been seen by both No. 10 Downing Street and the Treasury before Mr Williamson gave it.

“There is huge anger across Cabinet. Gavin was partially inciting a war, the team knew China wouldn’t be happy,’’ a defence source told The Sun.

China had been  expected to lift bans on British poultry and cosmetics which have not been tested on animals during the planned trade talks, opening up access to markets worth an estimated 10.2 billion pound over five years.

However, China only offered junior officials for the trade talks, ending hopes that two Memorandums of Understanding would be signed.

“British officials have embarked on frantic diplomacy to try and get the talks back on track for this weekend,’’ The Sun reported.

The deals would have been a much-needed boost for Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, which is scrambling to drum up trade ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union. (Reuters/NAN)

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