The Latest: China' Xi attends London banquet in his honor

AP News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2015 3:51 PM
The Latest: China' Xi attends London banquet in his honor

LONDON (AP) — The latest news on the second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Britain. All times local.

8:50 p.m.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has attended a lavish banquet in London's financial district held in honor of his visit.

The banquet in a 15th-century hall at Guildhall was hosted by London's Lord Mayor and attended by guests including Prince Andrew.

The event attracted a large group of protesters, including those campaigning for Tibetan independence, and rival China supporters.

Wednesday's banquet caps the second day of Xi's visit, when he signed a slew of business deals with Britain including a controversial stake in the U.K.'s first nuclear power plant since the 1980s.

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5:55 p.m.

China and Britain have agreed not to engage in industrial hacking or cyber theft of trade secrets.

Prime Minister David Cameron says he and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping had "open discussions" on "difficult issues" such as cyber espionage.

His spokeswoman says there was a clear commitment by both sides "not to conduct or support the cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets or confidential business information."

The agreement, which follows a similar pact between the U.S. and China in September, is the first time such a commitment has been made between Beijing and London.

It follows concerns about allowing China to invest in sensitive British infrastructure like the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in southwest England.

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5:15 p.m.

Police have dragged away a protester who rushed toward a building as Chinese President Xi Jinping was arriving.

The protester was taken into custody Wednesday after scaling barriers surrounding the Mansion House as Xi's convoy was arriving for an event with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Beforehand, he handed out cards identifying himself as Shao Jiang with an organization called Research Politics and Democracy and Civil Society.

Xi's state visit has sparked a series of protests over China's human rights record and other issues.

He concluded a number of business deals with Cameron as part of his state visit, which concludes Friday.

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4:25 p.m.

Prime Minister David Cameron says China's agreement to partly finance a U.K. nuclear power plant is a "historic" deal that will create thousands of British jobs.

President Xi Jinping signed an agreement Wednesday that will see China's state-owned power company take a 6 billion-pound ($9.3 billion) 35 percent share in a new plant to be built with France's EDF.

The plant has become a focus for critics of Britain's push to increase relations with China, the world's second-largest economy. Some accuse Cameron of wooing the Chinese for trade deals while ignoring the country's human rights record.

At a joint press conference with the Chinese leader at Downing St., Cameron said a strong economic relationship could go alongside some frank disagreements.

He said "the stronger the relationship between our countries, the more we'll be able to have a serious dialogue."

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2:40 p.m.

Britain has used the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping as an occasion to ease visa requirements for other Chinese visitors.

Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Wednesday that standard visitor visas will be extended from six months to two years as part of the government's plan to strengthen ties with China.

Plans for a new 10-year multiple entry visa were also announced.

The extended visa will be introduced in January.

Officials say Chinese tourists contribute 500 million pounds ($772 million) to Britain's economy each year.

London tourism officials said the new rules should deliver a boost to tourism.

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12:20 p.m.

Prince William and his wife Kate have shown Chinese President Xi Jinping a special exhibit of British and Chinese technology projects.

They were joined Wednesday by film star Jackie Chan as Xi continued a state visit that has included a gala banquet at Buckingham Palace. Xi viewed special zero-emission prototype vehicles including an Aston Martin, a London taxi and a London bus developed by Chinese and British firms.

The trip is designed to showcase business opportunities inside Britain as Prime Minister David Cameron courts closer ties with China. Cameron plans to meet Xi later Wednesday and dine with him Thursday at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence.

Xi is also thought to be interested in getting some fish and chips at a British pub.

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11:45 a.m.

Palace officials say a major Chinese firm is offering financial support to Prince William's effort to lead a movement to curtail illegal wildlife trade.

Officials said Wednesday the firm Sanpower will work with the Royal Foundation United for Wildlife charity, which is headed by William, his wife Kate and his brother Prince Harry.

The announced comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a state visit to Britain.

Charity officials say a donation from Sanpower will be used to create two regional ranger training facilities in eastern and southern Africa. Royal Foundation chief Nick Booth said the partnership will bring "significant new resources to bear."

William has recorded a broadcast for Chinese TV urging that the demand for illegally poached animal parts be squelched.

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9:25 a.m.

China's president Xi Jinping is expected to confirm a deal that will lead to China covering 30 percent of the cost of construction of a nuclear power plant in southwest England.

The plant in Somerset — set to be completed by 2025 — will be built by French energy firm EDF, in conjunction with a consortium led by Chinese state-owned nuclear company CGN.

EDF sought outside investors after being unable to cover the cost of the deal alone. Britain's government is also offering a guarantee.

The deal has faced criticism by rights activists who suggest that Prime Minister David Cameron has been courting the Chinese for trade deals while ignoring their human rights record.

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