China keen on low profile for UK trade delegation

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The Independent Online

A delegation of 150 Chinese businessmen arrives in Britain tomorrow, led by a rising star in the Beijing hierarchy who is expected to take over as the country's premier in the next two years.

The arrival of vice-premier Li Keqiang follows a trade visit to China by David Cameron.

But while sensitive issues such as human rights abuse will be raised, no press conferences are to be held – highly unusual for such a high-profile visit – at the explicit request of the Chinese government.

British officials insist that a renewed focus on business deals in foreign policy does not mean that "awkward issues" such as abuse of civil rights will be ignored. However, diplomatic sources say that with around 60 per cent of the Chinese leadership likely to be replaced in the near future – with Mr Li expected to succeed Wen Jiabou – Beijing is going through a "period of introspection" and is less receptive to lobbying.

Complaints about abuse are not one-way, with the Chinese expressing their disquiet about the use of control orders on terrorist suspects and "kettling" in demonstrations.