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British pub becomes an instant hit with Chinese

By Zhang Chunyan in Buckinghamshire, the UK | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2015-11-01 13:56

 British pub becomes an instant hit with Chinese

Chinese students eat fish and chips and drink India pale ale outside The Plough at Cadsden, the English pub which President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron visited on Oct 22.

Visitors sample food and drink enjoyed by Xi and Cameron

The British pub that President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister David Cameron visited in Buckinghamshire on Oct 22 has become a hit with the Chinese.

"We've received many Chinese customers during the weekend. Normally, most customers are local residents," says Steve Hollings, the landlord of The Plough at Cadsden, Princes Risborough. Hollings and his wife, Sharon, have managed the pub for almost 17 years and they have never served so many Chinese customers before.

Nearly 30 Chinese customers went to the pub in under an hour after it opened at noon on Oct 25.

Hollings says that nearly all the Chinese customers ordered fish and chips and the India pale ale beer that Xi sampled.

But Chinese customers had to wait and eat at tables outside as regulars were occupying the tables inside.

Miao Xin, a 26-year-old student who lives in London, went with three friends by car to The Plough. "We read the news that President Xi visited here and would love to experience the food and drink that he tasted," Miao says.

Another group of Chinese students, also from London, came by motorcycle. They posed for photographs before taking pictures close to where Xi and Cameron sat in the pub.

"We all know that fish and chips is called the British national food that you can find everywhere. However, with Xi's visit, we are curious to know what is special about this pub," one student says.

One Chinese man, surnamed Liu, drove to the pub with his wife, mother and baby. "After Xi's visit to the pub, I brought my family here. We want to experience it."

The pub's menu offers a large portion of fish and chips for 14.95 pounds ($23), a small portion for 10.95 pounds, and IPA beer for 3.6 pounds.

Some Chinese visitors published their photos of the pub, fish and chips and IPA beer on social media. Some joked that maybe the pub would become a key attraction.

"Going to the pub is a British tradition," Hollings says, explaining that Britons often go to a pub to relax and chat with friends. "The prime minister bringing Xi to the pub means that he treats Xi as a friend."

According to observers, such a gesture is generally interpreted as a sign of particular warmth in a relationship.

"It has become part of the unofficial protocol of visits by leaders of major states to have a 'photo opportunity' at an informal location. In this instance it is more for British domestic consumption, and is a balance to the pageantry," Erik Goldstein, professor of international relations at Boston University, says.

Hollings says the pub served Xi and Cameron fish sticks, not whole pieces of battered fish, as staff from the prime minister's office had advised them beforehand that Xi would have a formal dinner after the pub visit.

He also revealed that Xi sent an e-mail thanking him, and saying that he enjoyed the meal and drink in the pub. The landlord did not show China Daily the e-mail.

Xi chatted with some of The Plough's customers and even shook hands with them.

One regular even encouraged a friend to film him with his arm around Xi, according to the pub's website.

"It isn't the first time that our inn has appeared on the front pages of the national newspapers. Though it does seem to have been front page news in a great deal more of the world's newspapers than ever before, and our car park has never seen quite so many press photographers and news cameramen at any time in its long history," says a post on The Plough's homepage. "It was a quite remarkable moment and will no doubt be the subject of conversation here for years to come.

"The prime minister and his guest looked very relaxed, even removing their ties as they enjoyed a few minutes meeting ordinary people."

The landlord says that customers in the pub on Oct 22 were unaware of the visit. "They were very excited."

"I got the news that the prime minister would bring Xi to my pub three weeks before the visit, but I kept it a secret."

Peter Lynne, a local resident, says that he and his wife go to the pub every Sunday. "While we were not here when Xi visited, we are still excited as well."

"Xi and Cameron both looked very relaxed, very happy. They enjoyed meeting other customers," says Lynne, who says he was pleased to see that Xi's visit was successful.

The pub also made the headlines a few years ago - but for very different reasons - when Cameron and his wife Samantha left their 8-year-old daughter behind.

The prime minister's office admitted a couple of months later that the couple only realized their child was not with them when they got home, returning to The Plough and picking her up 15 minutes later.

The pub traces its history back to the 16th century, when it was a staging post for London coaches.

Its website says the pub "is often host to some very famous patrons" and asks visitors to "remember, they are here for rest and relaxation, too".

In 2013, ever since the news of Cameron dining in a hot pot restaurant in Chengdu, Sichuan province, was published, many people have called to book the private room he ate in.

In 2014, many people flocked to the flagship Yuetan branch of China's well-known Qingfeng Steamed Dumplings chain in Xicheng district, Beijing, after Xi made headlines for his unexpected visit to the store.


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