Mutual trust served up at first-family meals

Updated: 2014-08-23 07:51


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As diplomatic ritual goes, a family meal to entertain a visiting first couple indicates mutual trust. That was the case during the visit of President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan to Mongolia.

At noon on Friday, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj treated the couple to a traditional family lunch.

Mutual trust served up at first-family meals 

President Xi visits Mongolia 
The main course was khorkhog, a Mongolian dish of lamb cooked inside a metal pot containing hot stones and water.

After cutting the meat from the bone with a knife, khorkhog is usually eaten using one's fingers. When the rocks cool down, they are handed to the guests to rub, as the Mongolians believe that the heat and fat benefit health.

The family dinner showed the Mongolian president's "high respect" for Xi and the first lady, said Gao Shumao, former Chinese ambassador to Mongolia.

Gao was once invited to dinner by the Mongolian president. The usual practice is that foreign leaders on state visits to Mongolia are invited to banquets at official sites, Gao told Legal Evening News on Thursday.

In September 2013, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev treated the visiting Chinese president to a family lunch.

Xi attracted attention at the meal by wearing a traditional outfit given by the presidential family as a gift.

During Xi's visit to Kyrgyzstan, the two countries agreed to lift the bilateral relationship to a "strategic partnership". In May, Atambaev made a state visit to China as Xi's guest.

Media focus on meals was also visible in March when US first lady Michelle Obama visited China with her mother and two daughters in a public relations campaign.

Xi and Peng met with them at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and entertained them in a private dinner there, leaving Chinese media to guess about the menu.

Yuan Peng, vice-president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said "first ladies diplomacy" has brought a softer approach to Sino-US relations.

In May, headlines in China and Malaysia focused on a private family meal prepared in Beijing by the Chinese presidential couple for visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife.

Malaysian media said the Malaysian couple had treated the Chinese couple in October during Xi's Malaysian visit.

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