Theresa May in talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping

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Theresa May is to meet President Xi Jinping for talks later on the second day of her visit to China.

The agenda is expected to cover trade and security issues, including North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The PM is in China at the head of a 50-strong business delegation.

She will also raise environmental concerns – and present Mr Xi with a box-set of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series, with a personal message from presenter Sir David Attenborough.

The show examined the effect of human behaviour on the environment and was referenced by Mrs May last month when she pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042 as part of a 25-year green strategy.

On the first day of her trip the prime minister announced a UK-China effort to strengthen international action against the illegal trade in ivory.

She also said Mr Xi’s initiative to establish overland transport links between China and Europe would be discussed at their meeting.

£9bn deals

In Beijing on Wednesday, the prime minister and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed on a new trade and investment review, which is seen as a stepping stone to a full free trade agreement after Brexit.

Mr Li said China would further open up its markets to the UK, including to agricultural products and financial services.

UK-China trade is currently worth a £59bn a year and Mrs May has said she expects deals worth a further £9bn to be signed during the course of her visit.

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The two leaders met at the G20 summit in Hangzhou in September 2016

One of the UK companies travelling with the PM, health-tech firm Medopad, has said it signed more than £100m of commercial projects and partnerships with organisations including China Resources, GSK China, Peking University and Lenovo.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the prime minister would want to build on the warm words from China when she meets Mr Xi, amid pressure on her from her own party and Brussels in recent days.

Residency move opposed

Earlier this week, the EU set out what it was prepared to offer the UK in the Brexit transition period.

Speaking in China, Mrs May sought to reassure Tory MPs worried about the length of transition, saying it would last about two years and was not “something that is going to go on and on”.

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Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks in Beijing on Wednesday

She also indicated she would be fighting an EU proposal to give its citizens moving to the UK during the transition period after Brexit residency rights.

In a separate development, BuzzFeed News has claimed government studies on the economic impact of Brexit suggest that reducing migration from the bloc into the UK would nullify the benefits of any trade deal struck with the US.

Ministers agreed on Wednesday to let MPs see another leak from the same impact analysis which suggest the economy would be worse off as a result of a number of possible Brexit scenarios.

Meanwhile, the government’s flagship EU (Withdrawal Bill) has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Lords as it passed its second reading and former Labour minister Lords Adonis withdrew an amendment calling for a referendum on the final deal.

Fox urges Tories to focus on the ‘big picture’

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By Laura Kuenssberg, political editor

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is in China and wants his restive colleagues at home to focus on the big picture.

Listing the number of deals that have been done already this week during the prime minister’s visit he told me that building levels of trade with China is a real “success story”.

No 10 is confident that by the end of this marathon trip well over £9bn of new contracts will have been secured – such a high profile political investment edging deals over the line.

Dr Fox accepts it will take some to get trade deals done in the longer term. The UK will be limited not just before Brexit, but also during the transition period, in how much can get done.

Read more from Laura



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