SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May landed in China earlier this week warding off questions on her future amid mounting accusations of poor management, boring insurance policies, and weak spot over Brexit.
By Friday the 61-year outdated chief was basking in a heat reception from the leaders of world’s second-largest financial system, whereas involved Chinese residents affectionately nicknamed her ‘Aunty May’ and nervous if her legs have been heat sufficient within the Beijing chilly.
“What’s past is prologue,” stated President Xi Jinping throughout his one-to-one assembly with May, quoting British playwright William Shakespeare to sign his hopes for strengthening ties.
The three-day commerce go to has seen May earn assurances from China that Brexit won’t have an effect on the nation’s enthusiasm for the so-called “golden era” of relations and a promise to open up Chinese markets to new British business.
While phrases will imply little if not backed up with motion, and there are scant particulars in regards to the headline announcement of 9 billion kilos of commerce offers signed through the journey, the temper music for May’s go to pointed to a Chinese state looking for to rally help round her.
“Her political style is known for being pragmatic and strong and deft at decision making. She’s Britain’s Iron Lady,” stated the Hubei Daily, an official regional newspaper, referring to the nickname of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
There was no signal of a hangover from the 2016 diplomatic spat between the 2 nations brought on by May’s choice to delay a component Chinese-funded nuclear plant over issues about overseas funding in key British infrastructure.
“China really respects Britain,” stated the influential Global Times tabloid – the identical newspaper which in 2013 dismissed Britain as “just an old European country apt for travel and study” in a scathing editorial throughout a go to by May’s predecessor David Cameron, who had infuriated China by assembly the Dalai Lama.
One Chinese official remarked dryly to Reuters: “Nobody would call him Uncle Cameron”.
Asked by Chinese state tv about her new moniker – a typical Chinese time period of endearment for revered ladies – May stated she was honoured, and her officers have been privately thrilled that the identify had caught.
By distinction, the entrance web page of this week’s Spectator, a British political journal, reads “Lead or go”, above a stark, unflattering cartoon of May, hunched and bow-legged.
But, Britain shouldn’t be the one state trying to woo China.
Last month France’s energetic younger President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beijing with an attention-grabbing reward, a uncommon horse, though his powerful phrases over Xi’s signature plan to create a trillion-dollar modern-day Silk Road raised eyebrows.
Diplomatic sources say whereas China has expressed concern about Brexit, it has additionally been reassured by messages that Britain’s door is broad open to Chinese funding – a marked distinction to the suspicious reception Chinese firms have just lately acquired in Germany.
May introduced up awkward points like democracy in Hong Kong, human rights and moral issues about Xi’s Belt and Road initiative, however was praised as “pragmatic” by the Global Times for not urgent the problem in public.
“For the prime minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit’s friendly atmosphere,” the paper wrote in an editorial on Friday.
On Chinese social media, concern about May’s go to focussed on much less weighty points – like whether or not her uncovered legs have been heat sufficient after of her with husband Phillip inside Beijing’s Forbidden City.
“Theresa, you really know how to stand up to the cold,” wrote one among over 17,000 customers to touch upon her official Chinese-language Weibo account.
Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore