British Foreign Secretary forgets what country his wife is from

Mr Hunt, who is fluent in Japanese, caused furore in 2011 when it emerged that he had claimed £2,500 off the taxpayer to learn Mandarin because his wife if Chinese despite being a millionaire.

"Although relations have improved somewhat recently, they remain touchy due to issues such as Japan's bloody occupation of parts of China in the 1930s and '40s".

The newly-appointed foreign secretary began his first official trip on an inauspicious note, telling dignitaries in Beijing: "My wife is Japanese".

Mr Hunt has been married to Lucia since 2009 and the couple have three children.

"That's a awful mistake to make", he told his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The foreign secretary, who moved from his health brief to replace Mr Johnson earlier this month, made the "terrible mistake" while meeting his Chinese counterpart. "That's a bad mistake to make", Hunt said, to laughter in the room.

Mr Hunt was using visit to show Britain's commitment to deepening ties post-Brexit between the nations.

The top Chinese diplomat said the current tensions were initiated by the USA and the two countries should resolve their issues under the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework rather than in accordance with United States law.

Hunt attempted to minimize the damage by demonstrating knowledge about where his wife's family lives.

He replaced Mr Johnson, who resigned from government in protest at Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan.

Hunt is also set to discuss "the importance of multilateralism and free trade and ways the United Kingdom and China can work together on global challenges such as climate change, development, security and non-proliferation and enforcing UN sanctions on North Korea", during his meeting in Beijing, his office said ahead of the trip.