April 25, 2019 / 10:13 AM / a month ago

China expresses regret South China Sea issue has harmed UK ties

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond meets Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua expressed regret on Thursday to visiting British finance minister Philip Hammond that the South China Sea issue had harmed ties, after a British warship sailed close to islands claimed by China last August.

“It is regrettable that since August last year the relations between our two countries witnessed some fluctuations because of the South China Sea issue and a series of institutional dialogues and cooperation projects had to pause,” Hu told Hammond during a meeting in Beijing.

Hammond said he shared Hu’s regret that there had been “some difficulties in advancing the positive course of the relationship that our leaders have set out”.

“Of course you understand that the UK takes no position in relation to the issues in the South China Sea,” he added.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Joyce Zhou; editing by Darren Schuettler

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