The Chinese Five Star flag
The Chinese Five Star flag is erected for President Xi Jinping's state visit alongside a Union Jack umbrella Reuters

Chinese tourists will be able to stay in Britain for up to two years as part of David Cameron's plan to strengthen ties with the East Asian nation. The prime minister made the visa announcement ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Number 10 as part of his trip to the UK.

The move, which will come into force from January 2016, will mean the usual six-month limit on tourist visas will be extended by four times, which the prime minister has claimed will bring "significant benefits" to the British economy.

Cameron also announced his plans for a new 10-year multi-entry visa for Chinese tourists. Meanwhile, VisitBritain said Chinese tourists currently contribute £500m ($772m) a year to the UK economy.

"China is becoming one of our fastest-growing tourism markets so making it easier and more convenient for Chinese visitors to come to the UK is extremely important," Cameron said. "That is why the announcement I'm making today is great news for our tourism industry and great news for the British economy enabling us to maximise Chinese spending power even further.

"It will mean that the UK has the best offer in Europe for Chinese tourists and will build on our already strong people to people links, strengthening UK-China relations further."

The comments come as Xi plans to hold further discussions with Cameron in Downing Street on 21 October after the leaders attended the Queen's state banquet at Buckingham Palace a day earlier in honour of the Chinese premier.

Xi and Cameron are expected to seal £30bn worth of business deals between the nations and the prime minister is under pressure to raise the plight of British steel industry, with thousands facing job losses as Chinese firms undercut their Western competitors on pricing.

Elsewhere, thousands lined the Mall to welcome the Communist Party chief as he left Buckingham Palace, but human rights activists also staged a demonstration in protest against his state visit.

"Our main concern is that our prime minister talks to the president of China about human rights and our worry is that it is not happening," Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK, told IBTimes UK. "We want to make it clear to Cameron that we expect human rights to be on agenda."