Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to throw his full political weight behind a free trade agreement between the European Union and China which he believes could be worth tens of billions of pounds a year.
Mr Cameron's call came as he arrived in Beijing at the head of the largest British trade delegation ever to visit the far eastern country, which has emerged to become the world's second biggest economy in recent years.
The European Commission is due to begin investment treaty negotiations with China early in the New Year to cut back some of the barriers to trade.
But in talks with premier Li Keqiang today, Mr Cameron was set to become the first EU leader to champion a full-scale free trade agreement, which Downing Street said could be worth £1.8 billion annually to the UK alone.
The proposal is likely to face stiff resistance from some EU states who fear their markets would be flooded with cheap Chinese imports.
Writing in Chinese magazine Caixin, Mr Cameron declared his ambition to use this week's visit to help forge "a partnership for growth and reform that can help to deliver the Chinese dream and long-term prosperity for Britain too."
He welcomed signals from last month's crucial Third Plenum of the ruling Communist Party that China is ready to open up further to the rest of the world under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who took up office a year ago.