State Visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the United Kingdom
Date19–23 October 2015
VenueLondon, Manchester
Xi met with King Charles III (then Prince of Wales)

The 2015 Xi Jinping United Kingdom visit, from 19 to 23 October 2015, was the first state visit of Xi Jinping to the United Kingdom. It also was the Chinese paramount leader's first visit to the United Kingdom since 2005 and the second Chinese state leader to visit the UK after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit between 16 and 19 June 2014. During the visit, Xi met Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron, and also visited Manchester City F.C.


The vice-director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Feng Zhongping, said China–United Kingdom relations were warming rapidly. In March 2015, the United Kingdom joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In September, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited China. Feng said this visit would bring an improvement in Anglo-Chinese relations.[1]

The increasingly warm relationship has led some political analysts to describe it as a "special relationship". An article by CNN analyst Katie Hunt posits that a key reason for the increase in relations is due in part to Britain's avoidance of raising sensitive political issues such as the Chinese claims in the South China Sea, although she noted that issues such as the Tibetan independence movement could still cause tensions between the two nations.[2]


19 October: Arrival at London

On 19 October 2015 Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrived at Heathrow Airport and stepped off an Air China aircraft. They were greeted on behalf of the Queen by Viscount Hood and the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.[3]

20 October: Met Queen Elizabeth II, publish the speech and state dinner

Xi Jinping delivering a speech at the Palace of Westminster

On 20 October Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted the ceremony to welcome Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the Horse Guards Parade. The British welcomed Xi Jinping with a 41-gun salute in Green Park and a simultaneous 62-gun salute at the Tower of London and City of London (103 guns in total).[4][5][6][7] During this visit, supporters of Xi – primarily Chinese students at British universities – waved flags and banners and carried a dragon spelling out the message "Welcome Big Buddy Xi".[8] Photographs later produced by Amnesty UK showing diplomatic cargo boxes full of flags prior to the visit showed "that the Chinese embassy has been shipping in flags, hats, T-shirts and other pro-China merchandise as diplomatic baggage in order to put on a show of strength and support for the visiting President", according to a spokesperson for Amnesty International.[9][10]

Chinese officials are believed to have wanted their security personnel to carry guns and for anti-Chinese protests to be banned completely. The Metropolitan Police refused on both accounts,[11] and activists of Falun Gong and the Free Tibet Campaign convened to demonstrate against China's human rights abuses and to call for the UK government to put human rights on the visit's agenda.[6][12][13] Two Tibetan women were arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and had their homes raided under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 after flying a Tibetan flag near Xi's car, as well as computer equipment seized. Shao Jiang, a survivor of the Tiananmen Square massacre who also had her computer seized and home raided by police while in custody, said that the events reminded her of the repression she experienced in China prior to her exile.[14] The Falun Gong followers called for former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, to be brought to justice for the persecution of its practitioners.[15] Before this visit, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to raise human rights issues, but China ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said this visit would focus on partnership and cooperation between the two countries.[16]

Xi and Peng had lunch with the Queen, viewed the Royal Collection's Chinese artefacts, and exchanged gifts with the Royals, giving them two albums of Peng Liyuan's music.[8] In the afternoon, Xi Jinping made a speech at the Palace of Westminster. He focused on historic bi-national ties, law and order, and China's burgeoning economy in this speech. He also cited Shakespeare's The Tempest, that "what's past is prologue".[17] Later Xi Jinping visited the Clarence House, the residence of Prince William, and had tea with the prince. In the evening, Xi and Peng arrived for a state banquet at the Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Queen. Xi also met with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.[8] After the banquet, Xi and Peng stayed two nights at the palace in the Belgian Suite.[18][19]

21 October: Met David Cameron, business summit, and visiting events

On 21 October, Xi met with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, where they signed business agreements worth 40 billion pounds. The British government announced the UK will extend the standard Chinese visitor visas from six months to two years.[20] Merlin Entertainments signed an agreement with China Media Capital to establish a Legoland in Shanghai.[21] After the meeting, Xi and Cameron signed a cybersecurity pact at the press conference. They also talked about the issue of human rights.[22]

Xi and Cameron attended the UK-China business summit at Mansion House, where the focus was on investment, infrastructure and innovation.[20] Later Xi visited Imperial College London, Lancaster House and the London Office of Huawei, a leading Chinese telecommunications company.[20] In the evening Xi attended the banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of London Alan Yarrow at the City of London.[20]

22 October: Visiting events and meeting at Chequers

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan bid farewell to the Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace.[23] Xi then attended the opening ceremony of the annual conference of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms with Prince Andrew. He and Prince Andrew together unveiled the plaque of the 1000th Confucius Classroom at Hautlieu School, which was hosted by Hautlieu School of Jersey and Beijing Bayi High School.[24][25]

Xi also visited Inmarsat with Prince Andrew and Liu Xiaoming.[26] Peng Liyuan visited Royal Academy of Music with Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Peng also visited the Brussels Musical Instrument Museum.[27][28]

Later, Xi and Cameron held talks at Chequers. Cameron was expected to raise concerns over Hong Kong directly with Xi, but there was no mention of this in the statement.[29] Cameron also took Xi to a traditional British pub for beers and fish and chips, the English traditional dish.[30] Xi left London and arrived at Manchester at 10 pm.[31]

23 October: Manchester visit

On 23 October, Xi visited Manchester. He visited the National Graphene Institute of the University of Manchester with Professor Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the university, alongside George Osborne, Lord Jim O’Neill and the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton.[32] Later Xi visited Manchester City F.C., Manchester City Football Academy and its exhibition of football history.[33] He also witnessed former Manchester City defender Sun Jihai being inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame[34] and took a selfie with Sergio Agüero.[35]

Before Xi left, he visited the Airport City Manchester project. He announced that Hainan Airlines will launch non-stop flights between Beijing and Manchester.[35]


The British officials said that the China-UK business transactions were highly exaggerated and Britain would continue to tightly regulate the nuclear industry.[36]

In May 2016, Queen Elizabeth II was filmed making an unguarded remark that the Chinese "were very rude to the ambassador", and that it was "bad luck" for the Metropolitan police commander Lucy D'Orsi that she had to be responsible for security during the state visit.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "觀點:中英開創兩國關係「黃金期」". BBC Chinese. 16 October 2015.
  2. ^ Hunt, Katie (19 October 2015). "China and UK: Signs of a new 'special relationship?'". CNN. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in UK". BBC. 19 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Troops on parade as UK welcomes China with spectacular ceremony". GOV.UK. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Xi Jinping visit: UK-China ties 'will be lifted to new height'". BBC. 20 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b "China President Xi Jinping's UK tour: pomp and protest". Financial Times. 20 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Why a 103-gun royal salute for President Xi?". Xinhua News Agency. 20 October 2015. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Chinese president hosted by Queen at Buckingham Palace state banquet – as it happened". The Guardian. 20 October 2015.
  9. ^ Stone, Jon (21 October 2015). "The Chinese government seems to have been behind flag-waving supporters welcoming Xi Jinping to the UK". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  10. ^ Walker, Peter (20 October 2015). "Crowds greet Xi Jinping with flags seemingly brought by Chinese embassy". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  11. ^ Low, Valentine (12 May 2016). "Line of duty: officer won praise for handling of 'rude' Chinese". The Times. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Chinese President Xi begins 4-day visit to UK amid human rights concerns". CNN. 20 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Xi Jinping's carriage ride up London's Mall runs the gauntlet of Falun Gong, Tibet and China supporters". South China Morning Post. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  14. ^ Walker, Peter (23 October 2015). "Xi Jinping protesters arrested and homes searched over London demonstrations". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Chinese ambassador: we do not shy away from discussing human rights". The Guardian. 18 October 2015.
  17. ^ "Chinese president Xi Jinping visits Parliament... and receives an unexpected lecture on human rights". The Telegraph. 20 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Xi Jinping state banquet: The Duchess of Cambridge and her Lotus Flower tiara made from Queen Mother's jewels". The Telegraph. 21 October 2015.
  19. ^ "习近平今日抵英访问 下榻全球最贵豪宅白金汉宫". Beijing Times. 20 October 2015.
  20. ^ a b c d "Xi Jinping signs nuclear deal as UK and China clinch £40bn of contracts". The Guardian. 21 October 2015.
  21. ^ "Merlin signs deal for Chinese Legoland in Shanghai". BBC News. 21 October 2015.
  22. ^ "Xi Jinping state visit: UK and China sign cybersecurity pact". The Guardian. 21 October 2015.
  23. ^ "Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan Bid Farewell to Queen Elizabeth II of UK and Her Husband". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 23 October 2015.
  24. ^ "Xi Jinping: China has taught UK schools discipline – and learned about play". The Guardian. 22 October 2015.
  25. ^ "Xi Jinping Attends the Opening Ceremony of Annual Conference of UK Confucius Institutes and Classrooms". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 22 October 2015.
  26. ^ "Inmarsat welcomes President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China". Inmarsat. 22 October 2015.
  27. ^ "China's first lady Peng Liyuan strikes right chord chatting to music students, Mandarin pupils during visit to UK". South China Morning Post. 23 October 2015.
  28. ^ "China's first lady Peng Liyuan, in pictures". The Telegraph. 23 October 2015.
  29. ^ "Xi Jinping and David Cameron hold talks at Chequers". BBC News. 23 October 2015.
  30. ^ "British PM David Cameron takes China's Xi Jinping to traditional British pub for beers, fish and chips". ABC News (Australia). 23 October 2015.
  31. ^ "习近平同英国首相卡梅伦再次会晤". Xinhua News Agency. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  32. ^ "China's President Xi Jinping visits the National Graphene Institute". University of Manchester. 23 October 2015.
  33. ^ "Xi Jinping Visits Manchester City Football Academy". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 23 October 2015.
  34. ^ "Sun Jihai joins legendary figures in National Football Hall of Fame - er, WHAT?". The Mirror. 23 October 2015.
  35. ^ a b "Did David Cameron photobomb Sergio Aguero and China's Xi Jinping selfie?". CNN. 23 October 2015.
  36. ^ "Britain to Grant China a Large Stake in Nuclear Industry". The New York Times. 22 October 2015.
  37. ^ "Queen caught on camera saying Chinese officials were 'very rude'". The Guardian. 11 May 2016.