BEIJING (AP) — British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond urged China on Saturday to accelerate its push to cut steel production as the failing steel industry continues to hobble both countries' economies.
Hammond said in Beijing that the British government was seeking a "long-term, sustainable future" for the Port Talbot steelmaking plant in Wales, which is facing possible closure. Many local workers blame Chinese "dumping" for the plant's potential demise.
China itself has been wracked by massive overcapacity problems as steel prices and demand have plummeted. Tens of thousands of workers have been laid off in government-driven cuts, leading to unrest in China's northeast.
Characterizing bilateral relations as a "strategic partnership," Hammond also said he raised concerns with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared for months amid reports that they had been abducted by Chinese security forces.
Prior to his Beijing visit, Hammond met Friday with Hong Kong's leader, Leung Chun-ying, reiterating Britain's support for the "one country, two systems" policy governing Hong Kong's autonomy as part of the agreement when Britain handed the territory back to China two decades ago.
Five booksellers affiliated with a publishing house dealing in titles about Chinese Communist Party elite went missing in late 2015, including British citizen Lee Bo, who has insisted in television interviews that he was assisting an investigation in mainland China on his own volition.
Britain has maintained that Lee was involuntarily taken, while China has accused it of interfering in a domestic matter.