British Foreign Secretary makes 'Japanese wife' gaffe in China

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

'In Austria, the United Kingdom has a vital partner on trade, security and wider European issues for which together we work to defend the rules-based global order and safety of our citizens.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (L) shakes hands with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China July 30, 2018.

Wang, standing beside Hunt at a state guest house in the western suburbs of Beijing, made no direct mention of the free-trade talks offer but said the two sides had "agreed to proactively join each others' development strategies, and expand the scale of trade and mutual investment".

Relations between Japan and China have been strained for years, with bitter territorial disputes over islands in the East China Sea and long-running grievances dating back to World War II a factor.

Hunt was using visit to show Britain's commitment to deepening ties post-Brexit between the nations.

Newly appointed United Kingdom foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt mistakenly referred to his Chinese wife as Japanese, during his first diplomatic trip to Beijing.

An agreement in principle on Britain's departure from the European trading bloc - set for March 29, 2019 - must be reached before a European summit in mid-October.

At the beginning of their meeting, Hunt sparked laughter when he misidentified his Chinese-born wife as being Japanese.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned in a speech last year marking 20 years since Hong Kong became a semi-autonomous region of China that any activities in the city seen as threatening China's sovereignty and stability would be "absolutely impermissible".

He said he welcomed China's offer of talks on a post-Brexit trade deal.

The Foreign Secretary will also meet the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal.

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