Highlights: Chinese president visits UK

On the second day, also the first full day of his five-day state visit to the UK, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday received a grand ceremonial welcome by Queen Elizabeth II.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan had been greeted by Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen at their hotel and traveled with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremony.

Thousands of people have lined around the Buckingham Palace and surrounding routes since early morning to welcome and greet the president.

Xi was honored with a gun salute of 103 rounds in unexpected London sunshine at noon as the 89-year-old Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh formally welcomed him and his wife Peng Liyuan at Horse Guards Parade in central London.

Xi, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, inspected the Guard of Honor and later joined the Queen and the Duke for a state carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, with Chinese National Anthem being played.

Later in the afternoon, Xi addressed both houses of British Parliament.

In the 11-minute speech, Xi said he believes his visit to Britain, the first one in a decade by a Chinese head of state, will lift the bilateral ties to “a new height.”

Xi said China and Britain have led the way in a number of areas in terms of bilateral relations, labeling Britain as the first major Western country to recognize newly-born People’s Republic of China and the first European Union member to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with China.

Xi went on to say that as the backbone of bilateral ties, the two countries’ economic and trade relationship has enjoyed rapid development in recent years.

Xi said Britain is a leading offshore RMB trading center after Hong Kong. It is also the first Western country to issue RMB sovereign bonds and the first major Western country to apply full membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Moreover, Xi said Britain hosts more Chinese students and Confucius Institutes than any other EU country.

The president stressed that ties between the two nations had been driven by mutual understanding, support and friendship.

More than 500 people listened to Xi’s speech, including Lord Speaker Frances D’Souza of the House of Lords, Speaker John Bercow of the House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron and Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Later on Tuesday, a State Banquet was held by the Queen Elizabeth II for President Xi at the Buckingham Palace, where the two heads of state both addressed the guests.

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