UK's top envoy makes 'Japanese wife' gaffe in China

China ready to open talks with UK on a free trade deal, says Hunt

At the start of talks in Beijing, the capital, Mr. Hunt told the government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, that he had a long relationship with China, beginning with a backpacking trip when he was 19.

As well as risking upsetting his wife, Mr Hunt's blunder also threatened to offend the Chinese officials sat across the table from him.

"My wife is Japanese - my wife is Chinese", Hunt said at talks with prominent Chinese leaders, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

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Mr Hunt, who is fluent in Japanese, caused furore in 2011 when it emerged that he had claimed £2,500 off the taxpayer to learn Mandarin because his wife if Chinese despite being a millionaire.

The former Health Secretary is married to Lucia Guo, with whom he has three children.

Mr Hunt was picked by Theresa May to spearhead foreign policy after his predecessor Boris Johnson resigned on principle over her controversial Chequers plan for Brexit. "Sorry, that's a bad mistake to make".

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At a press conference later, Mr Hunt said: 'We discussed the offer made by Foreign Minister Wang to open discussion of a possible free-trade deal done between Britain and China, post-Brexit.

Hunt is also set to discuss "the importance of multilateralism and free trade and ways the United Kingdom and China can work together on global challenges such as climate change, development, security and non-proliferation and enforcing UN sanctions on North Korea", during his meeting in Beijing, his office said ahead of the trip.

According to Reuters, Wang said on Monday that China does not want a trade war with the USA, but insisted that Beijing is only acting to defend its own interests.

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"That's something that we welcome and we said that we will explore", he said, without elaborating.

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