Chinese President Xi Jinping heaped praise on Britain for what he called a "visionary and strategic choice" to strengthen commercial ties with China, as he prepared for a state visit to the United Kingdom that's expected to be richer in pomp and considerably warmer in tone than his recent trip to the United States.
The trip comes at a time of global anxiety about China's slowing growth. Xi himself acknowledged "concerns about the Chinese economy," but sought to allay them in a written interview with Reuters.
China itself is worried about the slowing of the broader global economy, Xi said, even while he expressed confidence that China would weather the current downturn as it reshapes its economy to be more resilient in the future.
That confidence will be on display when Xi arrives in London on Monday evening to kick off a four-day visit that is expected to cement ties between Britain and China, including through a host of business deals.
"The UK has stated that it will be the Western country that is most open to China. This is a visionary and strategic choice that fully meets Britain's own long-term interest," Xi said in a written response to questions from Reuters.
"China looks forward to engaging with the UK in a wider range, at a higher level and in greater depth."