Say you’re the leader of the world’s No. 2 economy. You just signed a massive energy deal with your Russian counterpart that has major political and economic implications – and that, under international protocol, calls for a big-time state wingding. At the same time, you’re pushing a government austerity platform to convince your people that their leaders aren’t corrupt fat cats living large off the people.
What to do?
That’s the dilemma Chinese President Xi Jinping faced this week after he reached a 30-year, potentially $400 billion gas supply deal with Vladimir Putin. His answer, it seems, was to split the difference. The state dinner that followed the high-profile deal-signing had enough fancy dishes, tipple and desserts to fail the sort of austerity test Mr. Xi might apply to, say, a banquet thrown by county-level officials in a tier-three burg.
Still, experts said, the wines steered more to the local than to the Bordeaux, and the whole affair fell short of what you might get at a fancy wedding.
After 10 years of difficult negotiation, China and Russia signed a landmark natural-gas contract on Wednesday. The night before, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a dinner in Shanghai welcoming more than 300 guests from 46 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
What dishes were served during the 90-minute dinner?
The dinner was definitely more elaborate than the “four dishes and one soup” set promoted by Xi Jinping as a form of domestic cost-cutting. There were four plates of desserts alone—implying that the anti-corruption rules don’t always apply when it comes to state events, as China doesn’t want to lose face on diplomatic occasions. The six appetizers included mashed green beans, spicy cabbage, sliced whitebait, a pea dish and bamboo shoots with green onions. The five dishes and one soup served included shrimp balls, fried and braised beef, macadamia nuts with greens, flatfish with bean curd sauce, luffa with green beans and mushroom with fish maw. Other dishes included moulded pudding, vegetable dumplings and plates of fruit.
This dinner was intended to be a creative combination of Chinese and western-style cooking, one that highlighted fresh ingredients from southern regions of the Yangtze River. The executive chef behind it, Su Dexing, was also the chief cook for the state banquet during the APEC meeting in 2001, according to Shanghai International Convention Center staff.
As at many state events, China’s ubiquitous luxury liquor Maotai was also served, along with a dry red and dry white wine produced by Cofco Wines & Spirits. According to prices advertised on e-commerce websites, such red and white wine would likely cost between 400-600 yuan ($64-96) per bottle and 300 yuan per bottle, respectively.
Although abundant, the dinner was still simple compared to other options available in Shanghai, where wedding banquets can easily cost a minimum of 500 yuan per person, excluding liquor. In 5-star hotels, such meals might cost more than double that amount.
via ‘Four Dishes, One Soup’ Not Enough For Sino-Russian Gas Deal Celebration – China Real Time Report – WSJ.