British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt mistakenly referred to his wife, who is Chinese, as Japanese during a trip to Beijing.
“My wife is Japanese — my wife is Chinese. Thats a terrible mistake to make,” he told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a visit to Beijing to discuss climate change and U.N. sanctions against North Korea as well as trade.
Hunt said the Chinese government is open to starting discussions on a free-trade deal with the United Kingdom after Brexit.
His statement comes as China is engaged in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with U.S. President Donald Trump, who earlier this month threatened to slap tariffs on $500-billion worth of Chinese imports. Beijing is also under pressure from Germany, which last week blocked Chinese state-owned energy company SGCC from acquiring shares of an energy grid operator citing “national security” concerns.
Chinas offer also comes as the U.K. negotiates the terms of its withdrawal agreement with Brussels. Under the terms of an agreement reached in March, the U.K. will be able to sign, but not implement, trade deals with non-EU countries during the transition period ending in December 2020.
Last year, Britains exports to China were worth £22.2 billion, while imports from China were worth £45.2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of £23 billion.