Britain’s media fuss about details in Premier Li Ke-qiang’s visit to their country was muted by his unexpected charm.
London’s tabloid Daily Mail, which made sport over the allegation that Li had to ask for an invitation to meet the Queen during his visit to Britain, called him “Premier Twinkle” on the day following his meeting with David Cameron.
The report said that Li “radiated a self-delight not previously seen in Peking” and “Premier Li - Premier Twinkle - was almost running the show by the end”.
Li lost no time in connecting with the locals, including his hosts, the Camerons, and local media, during his three-day visit.
At a leisurely tea during which the premier and his wife sat with their British counterparts in the Camerons’ garden, the leaders chatted with each other mostly on their own, relegating their interpreter to note-taking.
In the following news conference, Li hailed the British media for “bringing us the good weather” - a courtesy that impressed British journalist Quentin Letts at the scene.
“Lord Justice Leveson was never that civil to us,” Letts wrote in a Daily Mail article.
The Independent said Li has “a ready smile, gesticulates a lot and rather dominated the press conference. He mentioned several times his pleasure at meeting `friends in the British press’. He is, well, scrutable.”
During the visit, which came after 18 months of frozen relations between the two countries, Li’s warmth and wit didn’t seem to fit the stereotype of Chinese leaders created by sometimes ethnocentric commentators in the old British empire.
But as Li said in his article published by The Times: It is time for Britons to change their misperceptions of China.