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British Foreign Secretary Seeks Closer Trade Ties With China

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is in Beijing seeking closer trade and economic ties with China on behalf of his country's new coalition government.

Hague, in China for the first time as foreign secretary, says he also is hoping to patch up disputes over China's attitude to climate change and its execution last year of a British citizen accused of drug smuggling.

The British official refused, however, to back off from concerns about Tibet. He told reporters Britain wants to see greater stability for the Chinese-ruled territory, which he said requires work on human rights and autonomy.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who appeared at a press conference with Hague, took the criticism in stride. The Chinese foreign minister said common interests between the two countries far outweigh the differences.

Trade between China and Britain exceeded $39 billion last year, with Chinese exports accounting for most of the total. But with the Chinese economy expanding rapidly, Hague said he sees the two countries as "partners in growth."

Britain's relationship with China suffered after Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary in the previous British government, accused China of hijacking a global warming summit in Copenhagen.

New British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to visit China later this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.