* Trip is Li's first to UK since taking office
* Trade, business deals are focus
* China keen to put rights row behind it
* UK wants more Chinese investment
By William James and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON, June 17 A $20 billion liquefied natural
gas deal and a move to strengthen London's position in offshore
yuan trading will crown a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to
Britain on Tuesday.
In a trip aimed at burying a row over Tibet and deepening
commercial ties between the world's second-largest economy and
Europe's financial capital, Li met Queen Elizabeth and was due
to hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.
Li, number two in the ruling Communist party, is expected to
preside over up to $30 billion in business deals. Investors will
be looking closely for any signals he may send about the future
of Asia's largest economy.
Oil major BP will sign a deal worth around $20
billion to supply China National Offshore Oil Corporation
(CNOOC) with liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes, BP Chief
Executive Bob Dudley said at a conference in Moscow.
"It is a 20-year supply agreement on LNG. It is a fair price
for them and a fair price for us. It is a good bridge between
the UK and China in terms of trade," Dudley said.
Also on the table is a deal to make China Construction Bank
(CCB), the country's second-largest lender, the
first clearing service for offshore trading of the Chinese
currency in London.
London, which dominates the $5-trillion-a-day global foreign
exchange market, is seeking to fend off challenges to its
position as the leading offshore yuan centre in Europe.
As China promotes the use of its currency in international
trade, Hong Kong remains by far the largest centre for offshore
yuan deposits. Deposits in Taiwan, Singapore and Macau also
dwarf those in European capitals. New York lags far behind.
Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China are the clearing banks for
all yuan transactions in Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively.
FEEDING THE DRAGON?
China, whose $9 trillion economy is over three times the
size of Britain's, wants to use the visit to put differences
with London over Tibet behind it.
Britain's relations with China took a nosedive in 2012 after
Cameron met the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who
Beijing says is a separatist. Ties have recovered somewhat
since, and Cameron visited China last year.
But tensions remain.
Beijing warned London on the eve of Li's visit not to
lecture it on the subject if it wanted good economic ties
. And British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
said on Monday that the people of China were politically
shackled to a Communist one-party state.
"We can't ignore the large scale and systematic human rights
abuses which still continue in China to this day," Clegg, who
leads the Liberal Democrat coalition partners of Cameron's
Conservatives, told reporters.
China views Britain, the world's sixth largest economy and
home to the only financial capital to rival New York, as
Europe's most open place to do business. Its firms are keen to
invest in major nuclear and high-speed rail projects.
In an attempt to attract more of China's big-spending
tourists, Britain's government said it would make its
notoriously complex visa system easier to navigate.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn; Additional
reporting by Ben Blanchard and Aizhu Chen in Beijing,; Saikat
Chatterjee in Hong Kong, Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow,; Oleg
Vukmanovic in Milan and Nina Chestney in London; Editing by Mark