Premier Li Keqiang and his wife, Cheng Hong, enjoy a cup of tea with British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, in the garden of Cameron’s residence on June 17. [Photo by Huang Jingwen / Xinhua]
Among many factors that have contributed to Premier Li Keqiang’s success in aligning multiple business deals during his second day in Britain, the premier’s ace command of English definitely stands out.
“Your English is good,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron inside the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, delivering the compliment in front of media.
During hours of in-depth conversations with Cameron, Li has been consistently promoting China in English.
At a leisurely tea time 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, according to Huang Jingwen, a photographer from Xinhua News Agency who was at the scene.
When he was in college, Li helped with the translation into Chinese of The Due Process of Law, a book by English jurist Lord Denning. He then married Cheng Hong, a professor of English language and literature.
Li’s English may not be perfect: he pronounces words with a slight accent and is still making progress in grammar. Traces of his native Anhui province show up at times when he speaks in both English and Mandarin.
But his boldness in using English is impressive. It’s a skill that can be put to good use by China’s leaders on a global platform.