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China Lauds Ties With Britain

  • Reuters

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in hat, stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his wife, Peng Liyuan and Prince Philip during the ceremonial welcome for the Chinese state visit, in London, Oct. 20, 2015.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in hat, stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his wife, Peng Liyuan and Prince Philip during the ceremonial welcome for the Chinese state visit, in London, Oct. 20, 2015.

From binge drinking and David Beckham to the Labor Party's role in recognizing Communist China, Chinese state media has kicked into overdrive to praise Sino-British relations and point out shared interests as President Xi Jinping is feted in London.

Since the ruling Conservative Party decided it wanted Britain to be China's "best partner in the West," something championed by finance minister George Osborne, old arguments about human rights and the fate of formerly British-ruled Hong Kong have largely fallen by the wayside.

In China, formerly vitriolic blasts in the tightly controlled government press that Britain is good for little more than museums and education have been replaced by warm, if sometimes rather odd, compliments.

Television and newspapers are plastered with images of the pomp and pageantry of Xi's welcome during a four-day state visit, especially the involvement of Britain's royal family.

‘We are becoming close friends’

The official China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece to the world, has put a video on its website listing 29 things the Chinese and the British share, including binge drinking, unhealthy food and "adorable creatures" like pandas and David Beckham.

"Now we are becoming close friends," it concludes.

Football star David Beckham displays a tattoo, as requested by students at Peking University, during a visit to Beijing, March 24, 2013. Its translation: "Life and death are determined by fate, rank and riches decreed by Heaven."

Football star David Beckham displays a tattoo, as requested by students at Peking University, during a visit to Beijing, March 24, 2013. Its translation: "Life and death are determined by fate, rank and riches decreed by Heaven."

The Global Times, a feisty and widely read tabloid that delights in upsetting foreigners with its nationalist editorials, has set aside the acrimony to cheer on Britain's newfound respect for China.

"When it comes to policy toward China, the U.K. bears no geopolitical burden. It is therefore more open-minded," it said in an editorial on Tuesday.

Even Xi himself has gotten in on the lovefest, quoting Shakespeare in a speech on Wednesday evening.

One newspaper missteps

Xi's meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, who leads the main opposition Labor Party, proved a bit of a headscratcher for one Chinese newspaper. It decided to go beyond the brief foreign ministry statement of the event and explain the significance in more detail.

The Southern Metropolis Daily – under the headline "Why did Xi Jinping want to meet the leader of Britain's opposition party?" – quoted a Chinese academic as explaining it was under the Labor Party in 1950 that Britain recognized China's new Communist government.

But in a country that has only had one ruling party since the 1949 revolution, the paper also had to explain what an opposition party was.

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