Posts tagged ‘mr cameron’


The banquet that wasn’t — and then a gift horse | The Times

If I had been asked before this visit, I would have predicted that PM Cameron would have been feted with the traditional 10-12 course Chinese banquet that foreign dignitaries have been used to. To my shock and surprise, China‘s leaders are “walking the talk”, at least regarding frugality and austerity at banquets.  This is almost on the boundary of ‘losing face’; such is their determination to re-educate the CCP cadres in the right behaviour wrt to the people’s money.

Incidentally, I wonder if Mr Cameron or his protocol advisors realise the signal honour he was accorded to be hosted not only by his counterpart PM Li (as is appropriate) but also by President Xi (whose presence is only required when meeting a foreign head of state (which, of course is the Queen and not Mr Cameron).

“From a humble bowl of creamy mushroom soup to a political biography of Margaret Thatcher, yesterday’s gifts and meals were freighted with meaning.

David Cameron and Li Keqiang

Within hours of landing in Beijing and meeting Li Keqiang, his Chinese counterpart, David Cameron was entertained at a lunch with “banquet” in the title — but austerity very plainly on the menu.

Behind the grandeur of the setting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the lunch held in Mr Cameron’s honour — a frugal repast that included bamboo fungus and boiled sea bass — was a reflection of a Chinese government campaign against sumptuous official banqueting and ostentatious expenditure from the public purse.

In the earliest days of his leadership of the Chinese Communist Party this year, Xi Jinping held a meeting of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and said that officials should “conduct all their undertakings industriously and thriftily and stand fast against lavishness, hedonism and extravagance”.

Officials scrambled to swap their Rolexes and Hèrmes belts for dowdier accessories that would not be noticed by eagle-eyed citizens, and their lunches and dinners were downsized. Mr Xi made a mantra of the term “si cai yi tang” — the “four dishes and a soup” that qualify as China’s most basic meal.

As a People’s Liberation Army band played to accompany their lunch, Mr Cameron was served a meal that came acceptably close to four dishes and a soup. The soup was creamy mushroom and a “beef steak of Chinese style” provided the mainstay of four dishes that followed. In a culinary flourish that may have reminded the Prime Minister of school lunches in his youth, he was served sago pudding for dessert.

Mr Xi’s campaign against luxury has had a chilling effect on many restaurants in Beijing and on the producers of the high-end liquor that is now largely absent from the dinner tables of Chinese officials and military officers.”

via The banquet that wasn’t — and then a gift horse | The Times.


* Dassault to Hold Exclusive Talks on India Order for 126 Fighters Planes

Business Week: “Dassault Aviation SA, seeking its first export order for Rafale fighters, will begin exclusive negotiations to supply 126 jets to India after being selected as the lowest bidder.

“The French company and India’s defense ministry will begin talks within 15 days, an Indian government official told reporters in New Delhi yesterday. Negotiations will probably extend beyond the March 31 end of India’s fiscal year.”

This news is particularly disappointing to Mr Cameron who had paid a visit to India a couple of years ago and got reassurance that India will try and increase its trade with Britain. Presumably either the British supplier was not able to make as good an offer or the timing was just wrong (or both).