Xi Jinping ends UK state visit with trip to Manchester

LONDON: Chinese President Xi Jinping has ended his state visit to Britain after being greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic and well-organized well-wishers in the northwest England city of Manchester.

Members of the presidential entourage were seen waving from inside their plane as it taxied down the runway for Xi's return to China after a visit that included a stay at Buckingham Palace and some authentic English fish and chips.

Although there were protests at several venues throughout his stay, the carefully orchestrated visit served Prime Minister David Cameron's goal of emphasizing the important of Britain's developing economic relationship with China.

Crowds waving Chinese flags greeted Xi throughout his visit, outnumbering pro-Tibet and human rights protesters concerned about the British government's lavish welcome for the Chinese leader.

The two countries signed more than 30 billion pounds ($46 billion) in trade agreements during the trip, as Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would be China's "partner of choice" in the West.

Before flying home Friday Xi had lunch with businesspeople and civic leaders and visited a soccer academy in Manchester.

Britain is seeking Chinese investment in Manchester, which it hopes will become an economic and technological "northern powerhouse" to offset London's dominance.

China is also playing an important role in Britain's energy sector and British officials have taken steps to make it easier for Chinese tourists to make extended visits to Britain.