THE UK is entering a “golden era” of relations with China, Theresa May said yesterday.

The Prime Minister’s comments came as she and Chancellor Philip Hammond met with Chinese vice premier Ma Kai and other senior officials for investment talks in England.

The two-day visit comes as the UK Government eyes stronger economic deals with non-EU nations, following the Brexit vote.

It also comes after the delay in approving the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which is partly financed by China, and the collapse of a £10 billion investment deal between Chinese firms and the Scottish Government.

A memorandum of understanding with China’s SinoForte and the China Railway Group was signed in March, but the deal is understood to have broken down in August.

Now Westminster aims to win billions of pounds for investment in the north of England. May said: “I am determined that as we leave the European Union, we build a truly global Britain that is open for business.

“As we take the next step in this golden era of relations between the UK and China, I am excited about the opportunities for expanding trade and investment between our two countries.”

Hammond, who is hosting the Chinese delegation in London, said there would be gains on both sides, stating: “The mutual benefits are clear.

“China is the world’s second-largest economy. UK exports to China have grown rapidly and Britain is home to more Chinese investment than any other European country.”

The UK is expected to invest up to £40 million in the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in a fund to help prepare for infrastructure upgrades in developing countries.

Meanwhile, Chinese contractor CITIC Construction is expected to invest £200m in the London Royal Albert Docks project, which is led by Chinese developer ABP.

It is also understood that Hammond will bid for investment in more than £5b worth of property and infrastructure projects in the north of England, including a scheme to double the size of the BBC’s Salford base MediaCityUK.

Other projects reportedly open to the delegation include a regeneration plan for Doncaster and the UK’s largest potash mine in the North York Moors national park.

While new US President Donald Trump has stated his intention to impose 45 per cent trade barriers on Chinese imports to protect free trade, Hammond said “balance” is necessary in the global economy.

He told the BBC: “Britain’s always believed that the best way long-term to protect and promote prosperity is free markets and free trade.

“It’s about getting the right balance in the global trading system, so that we can have the benefits of open markets, while being properly and appropriately protected.”

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