Beijing: Britain's Prince William arrived here today on his first visit to China, projected as his most significant overseas tour designed to strengthen the tricky relations between the two countries.
The four-day charm offensive will also take the Duke of Cambridge to China's financial hub Shanghai and the picturesque southwestern Yunnan Province. The 32-year-old, the second-in-line to the British throne, will attend a series of cultural and public welfare activities during his stay.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has said that China hopes the visit by William will help advance Britain's understanding of China, deepen the friendship between the two peoples and boost China-Britain ties.
William was invited by the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, a thinktank. His wife Catherine, who is expecting their second child, is not accompanying him. William's presence in Beijing and elsewhere will highlight the fact that his father, Charles, hasn't yet undertaken such a journey.
Charles is friendly with Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, who is seen by China as a separatist. In 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron's meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader had irked China.
High-level relations between the UK and China were frozen for some time after the meeting.
The ties normalised after Cameron visited China in December 2013, after a leadership change at the Chinese Communist Party in March that year.
Prior to his China tour, William visited Japan where he heard the harrowing stories of survivors of the 2011 tsunami.