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Visit to Britain provides lasting ties for China

By Wang Mingjie and Li Wensha in London | | Updated: 2017-10-17 11:00

Pub visit

Xi's trip took him not only to London but also other parts of Britain. The president experienced something less formal at Chequers, a tranquil country estate that has hosted foreign dignitaries since becoming the official retreat of British prime ministers in 1921.

David Cameron took Xi for Britain's famous fish and chips and a pint in a traditional English pub-the Plough at Cadsden in rural Buckinghamshire.

Recalling what happened that evening, Steve Hollings, who served Xi and Cameron at the pub, said: "(Xi) is one of the nicest men you could possibly wish to meet. He's a real, true gentleman and a lovely man, and I was very impressed."

Hollings noted that Xi was interested in customers who were drinking in the pub that night.

"Because it is quite a wealthy area, we had a lot of businessmen in the pub that night and he was very interested in any sort of dealings or business that any of the customers had with China," said Hollings.

Hollings said going to the pub is a British tradition and many people go to one to relax and chat with friends.

"The prime minister bringing Xi to the pub means that he treats Xi as a friend and such a gesture is generally interpreted as a sign of particular warmth in a relationship," he said.

After the presidential patronage, the pub shot to fame in China and has since become a tourist attraction, with busloads of Chinese tourists arriving to sample the same classic British fare.

Last December, Hollings sold the pub to a Chinese investor.

"It has piqued a lot of Chinese tourists' interest," said Liam Jones, the pub's deputy manager. "We receive a lot of Chinese tourist groups, ranging from a table of four to a table of 14. Usually, it's always what the president ordered, the fish and chips with a pint of IPA (short for India pale ale)."

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