Date
24 May 2017
Xi Jinping (R) holds talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in London during a state visit this week. Note the toilet signs in the background. Photo: Yahoo.com
Xi Jinping (R) holds talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in London during a state visit this week. Note the toilet signs in the background. Photo: Yahoo.com

Britain faces criticism over choice of venue for a Xi meeting

After reports that Prince Charles snubbed Xi Jinping by skipping a state banquet Tuesday in London in honor of the visiting Chinese leader, some people are now seeing one more slight for Xi at the hands of Britain.

Online forums in China have been agog with chatter that the venue of a meeting between Xi Jinxing and Philip Hammond, UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was right outside a washroom.

Some netizens commented sarcastically that even 30-billion-pound worth of deals couldn’t secure Xi a more privileged seating.

Hong Kong-based columnist Chip Tsao also had some things to say about the matter.

Tsao wondered if Britain was sending out a message that its openness to China is solely due to commercial considerations, and not because it has any special regard for Beijing’s leadership.

The commentator said he suspects the poor choice of venue may not have been pure coincidence or something that arose due to negligence by some UK diplomats, Apple Daily reported.

“Why did they not use a VIP room for the meeting or cover up the wash room?” Tsao said, adding that he feels that Britain “has definitely violated diplomatic protocols”.

Xi was probably not aware of the setting, the commentator said, noting that it was unlikely that Xi may have looked around as Hammond was talking to him during the meeting.

To soothe any potential feelings of the Chinese and to “balance things out”, Britain sent the Chinese leader to the luxurious Buckingham Palace for an extravagant night of accommodation, Tsao said.

As British leaders are aware that they are perceived as sucking up to Beijing to win investments and trade deals, they are trying to send a parallel message that they remain concerned about human rights issues in China, he said.

The Financial Times ran an article Wednesday which pointed to the incongruity of Xi delivering an address to the UK parliament, which is considered to be a temple of democracy.

- Contact us at [email protected]

EL/JP/RC

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe