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Fish and chips on Xi's British wish list

( chinadaily.com.cn ) Updated: 2015-10-19 15:18:09

Fish and chips on Xi's British wish list

Fish and chips. [Photo/IC]

Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly requested a meal of fish and chips as Britain's most available food is set to add a lighter tone to his packed state visit schedule.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan are scheduled to arrive in London on Monday for a four-day visit that includes a state banquet at the Buckingham Palace and meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and parliament members.

Xi is expected to dine at a traditional English pub in the countryside on Thursday afternoon and "wants to try the dish" there, according to the Sunday Times.

The pub is part of Xi's excursion to Chequers, 50 km northwest of London in Buckinghamshire, which, as the official country retreat for serving British prime ministers, has been the venue of reception for world leaders.

The Sunday Times quoted a source involved in negotiations over the trip as saying: "The Chinese are desperate to order fish and chips. They've asked about it repeatedly."

The pub tour is not the first time Cameron has used such diplomacy to win over a visiting world leader.

In January last year the prime minister took French President Francois Holllande to The Swan Inn in his Witney constituency, which has featured in hit ITV show Downton Abbey.

Together with other British symbols known to the Chinese public, fish and chips is the representative of the country's cuisine, which in their mind can seldom impress and therefore often becomes the target of ridicule.

A popular Wechat public account cited the Times report on the instant messaging and calling app, and as might have been expected, drew comments making fun of the symbolized dish.

"What else can they order (in the pub)?" said one comment, while another agreed: "It's probably the only edible thing."

Apart from the sarcastic tones, some comments offered a different perspective, shifting focus from the food to what it might underlie.

"That's down-to-earth approach," one of such comments said, echoing the source quoted by the Times – "It's all part of the president's view of himself as a man of the people."

The Chinese leader made a surprise appearance at a local restaurant in Beijing in 2013, waiting in line with other diners before ordering a $3.50 set meal.

Since Xi's presence, a move widely seen to have shown his common touch, the dumpling store has gone from ordinary to extraordinary, becoming a hot tourist spot.

Likewise the English pub can expect the flood of Chinese tourists now.

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