Queen Elizabeth II met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
and his wife in London Tuesday. However, British media had previously claimed it was the Chinese side who required a meeting with the Queen. In their reports, whether the Queen would grant an audience with Li seemed to become a bargaining chip for London. Diplomats might break out into laughter at such rhetoric. This hype only serves to reflect the narrow-mindedness of the British media and even the whole of its society. The once-powerful British Empire must now resort to such trickery to manifest its pride.
Anyone with a common sense of diplomacy understands fine-tuning of itinerary details are a necessity in high-level state visits. It is completely normal and proper for the Chinese Premier to meet with the British Queen, who should make her own contribution to the success of this diplomatic event. The British media are unprofessional by speculating over the negotiation process.
For China, Premier Li's final travel itinerary is in full conformity with the significance of his visit. Designing such an agenda was quite simple for Beijing. It is London that conceives they could utilize different options to express its opinions. However, China will pay no heed to all this.
British public opinion remains prejudiced against China and highly expects to embrace an opportunity to prove that it is superior compared with the emerging nation. Nevertheless, engaging in economic cooperation with Beijing is in its practical interests. Whenever Chinese and British leaders meet with each other, the British media habitually hypes China's human rights and calls on the British government not to sell its soul in exchange for Beijing's trade pacts.
Britain's national strength cannot be placed in the same rank as China now, a truth difficult to accept for some Britons who want to stress their nobility. If they refuse to recognize this fact and find fault with China on purpose, even at the cost of bilateral relations, they will not find any mental comfort. Chinese society is more and more relaxed in dealing with Sino-UK ties, while the British could not be pettier.
The Chinese public has a simple attitude toward the China-UK relationship in which national interests are the decisive factor. As an important European country, a positive bilateral relationship outweighs a negative one. There is no extra sentiment involved. But to us, British society attaches much more emotion when it comes to engagement with China, such as sense of pride and national dignity.
Perhaps Chinese people should forgive Britain's confusing sentiment. A rising country should understand the embarrassment of an old declining empire and at times the eccentric acts it takes to hide such embarrassment. Diplomacy has to be based on realistic recognition of the two countries' power. No matter for China or the UK, it will be tiring if they try to distort this reality.