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BEIJING - China and Britain have vowed to continue and strengthen cooperation on a wide range of economic, financial and trade issues, including speeding the introduction of a London-Shanghai stock connect programme.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai attend the UK-China Economic Financial Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Fred Dufour/Pool

In a joint statement on Saturday, coinciding with an official visit to China by British finance minister Philip Hammond, the countries also said they opposed trade protectionism and reaffirmed their support for the World Trade Organisation as a key pillar of the global trade system.

The statement comes as China, in an unusual step, accused the United States and the European Union of breaking promises that they made when China joined the WTO.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing together with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai, Hammond said the two countries were also discussing a long-awaited London-Shanghai stock connect programme, as well as a possible scheme to connect their bond markets.

“We have agreed to accelerate the final preparations for the London-Shanghai stock connect initiative and we’ve agreed to commence feasibility studies for a UK-China bond connect and for mutual recognition of funds between the two jurisdictions,” he said.

Other areas of cooperation highlighted in the joint statement include encouraging each country’s banks to increase their presence and activity in the other country, the promotion of China-U.K. cross-border yuan business, and support of the yuan as a settlement currency.

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