The agreements, due to be signed during an official state visit to Beijing and Shanghai by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, cover co-operation in defence, education and customs controls.

Sheikh Mohammed met Chinese president Hu Jintao on 31 March in Beijing. He is also due to meet students at Tsing Hua university before travelling to Shanghai for a UAE-China joint economic forum and to visit an urban planning centre.

He will return to Beijing on 3 April to hold talks with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and vice president Xi Jinping before returning to Dubai.

The agreements due to be signed include memorandums of understanding on higher education and scientific research, co-operation on manufacturing of military equipment and the exchange of information to tackle smuggling and drugs trafficking.

It is the first state visit by a UAE government official to China for more than 18 years. China is the federation’s biggest trading partner, with imports from China increasing by more than 40 per cent in 2007.