* Trip is Li's first to UK since taking office
* UK's Cameron announces deals worth more than 14 bln pounds
* China keen to put rights row behind it
* Trade deals focus on energy, finance sectors
(Adds details, comments from Li on currency deals)
By William James and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON, June 17 Britain and China signed deals
worth more than 14 billion pounds ($23.5 billion) on Tuesday
during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with energy and
finance dominating the trade agenda.
In a trip aimed at deepening commercial ties between the
world's second-largest economy and Europe's financial capital
and moving past a row over Tibet, Li met Queen Elizabeth and
held talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron said the rise of China was "one of the defining
events of our century" and that Britain wanted to strengthen
ties on every level, from business to cultural understanding.
"Today we have signed deals worth more than 14 billion
pounds, securing jobs and long-term economic growth for the
British and Chinese people," Cameron told a news conference.
Li, on his first official trip to Britain since taking
office, said the two countries had extensive shared interests.
"China is ready to work with the UK to foster a partnership
for growth and inclusive development to ensure that this
relationship will grow faster and in a healthier way," he said.
Oil major BP signed a 20-year 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 fair price for them and a fair price for us. It is
a good bridge between the UK and China in terms of trade,"
Shell also announced that it had signed an
agreement with CNOOC strengthening its existing strategic ties.
The London Stock Exchange said it had signed
agreements with two of China's biggest banks to develop offshore
trading in the Chinese currency, the yuan (RMB).
London, which dominates the $5-trillion-a-day global foreign
exchange market, is seeking to fend off challenges to its
position as the leading yuan centre in Europe.
Li hailed a deal to make China Construction Bank (CCB)
, the country's second-largest lender, the first
clearing service for offshore trading of the yuan in London.
"It will further consolidate and promote London's status as
an international financial hub and will help the gradual
internationalisation of the RMB to promote trade and investment
liberalisation and facilitation," Li said at a speech to
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.
With Chinese firms keen to invest in major nuclear and
high-speed rail projects, the two governments also agreed a
framework to collaborate more closely on nuclear supply chain
development and signed a memorandum of understanding paving the
way for more cooperation on railway design and construction.
The state-owned China Development Bank Corporation (CDB),
which finances government-led infrastructure projects and is
looking to expand its overseas investments, signed a deal to
build closer ties with TheCityUK, which represents Britain's
Lloyds Banking Group also signed a memorandum of
understanding with CDB to help secure inward investment from
China, with a focus on energy and infrastructure.
China, whose $9 trillion economy is over three times the
size of Britain's, wants to use the visit to move past
differences with London over Tibet.
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.
China has ruled Tibet since 1950, and Beijing warned London
on the eve of Li's visit not to lecture it on the subject if it
wanted good economic ties. British Deputy Prime
Minister Nick Clegg said on Monday that the people of China were
politically shackled to a Communist one-party state.
Asked about Clegg's comments, Li said that China's
constitution required human rights to be respected, and that the
country was choosing its own path on the issue.
"There are diverse dimensions to the issue of human rights,
and countries which are at different stages of development, and
with different historical and cultural backgrounds may see this
issue of human rights from different perspectives," he said.
During the trip, which finishes on Wednesday, investors will
be looking for any signals that Li, number two in the ruling
Communist party, may send about the future of Asia's largest
economy in two speeches he is due to give before leaving.
($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds)
(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
Trevelyan and Sonya Hepinstall)