Beijing reportedly scrapped plans for chancellor’s visit after defence secretary’s remarks

Philip Hammond is not going to China this weekend for trade talks, following reports that Beijing scuppered advanced preparations for a meeting after the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, threatened to deploy a warship in the Pacific.

The UK chancellor was expected to meet the Chinese vice premier, Hu Chunhua, but Treasury sources said the trip was never confirmed. It is believed that there is an internal row brewing between the Treasury and the defence department over Williamson’s remarks, which the former chancellor George Osborne described as a throwback to an era of “gunboat diplomacy”.

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