Theresa May has announced new education links with China as she arrived for a three-day trip designed to boost trade after Brexit.
The prime minister's first stop was Wuhan, in central China, which is home to the largest number of students of any city in the world.
She announced new educational initiatives with China, including:
- Extension of a maths teacher exchange programme for a further two years to 2020, enabling around 200 English teachers to visit China
- Joint training of pre-school staff in the UK and China
- Improved information-sharing on vocational education
- The launch of a new "English is GREAT" campaign to promote English language learning in China
- Education deals worth more than £550 million and creating 800 jobs in the UK, including the opening of 20 nurseries by Staffordshire-based Busy Bees in China
Mrs May said: "In our increasingly interconnected world, any government that is serious about the economic prosperity and security of its people must have an international outlook – and must be prepared to reach out around the world and secure agreements abroad that ensure jobs and prosperity at home.
"For a global trading nation like the UK, it is doubly important, which is why I'm travelling to China at a crucial moment in the history of both our countries."
In a statement ahead of the visit, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Beijing officials saw Mrs May's trip as "an opportunity to achieve new development of the China-UK global comprehensive strategic partnership".
Chinese nationals already make up the largest group of international students in the UK, with 155,000 currently studying in Britain and bringing in £5 billion a year to the educational sector.
Mrs May said new agreements signed on her trip would "enable more children and more young people than ever to share their ideas about our two great nations", helping to ensure that "our golden era of co-operation will endure for generations to come".
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, so this partnership will play a crucial role in teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in an increasingly global economy. By opening up these opportunities to more young people, we can help to build a Britain that is fit for the future.”
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