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Son brings charm to diplomacy

ZHANG YUNBI
Updated: Sep 24,2016 6:46 AM     China Daily

Xavier, the eldest son of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, covers his face out of shyness after his trampoline landings were not quite steady.[Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li and Canadian counterpart show personal warmth as they seek to cement ties

History repeated itself this week for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who first became part of China-Canada diplomacy at the age of 11 when he joined his father, then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, on a visit to China in 1983.

This time, it was Justin Trudeau’s 8-year-old son Xavier who took his place in history alongside his father.

Xavier was caught by cameras on Sept 21 jumping on a trampoline in the background while his parents were having a lakeside chat with Premier Li Keqiang and his wife, Cheng Hong, at Harrington Lake, the prime minister’s country residence near Ottawa.

The boy and his sister, Ella-Grace, were playing with great ease, not the least bit overwhelmed by the diplomacy going on at his home.

Xavier even proposed to perform backflips for the guests.

The three flips were a success, but his landings were not quite steady, so Xavier covered his face with his left hand out of shyness and went to his father’s side.

In response, Premier Li laughed and patted the boy on the shoulder to encourage him.

The series of lakeside pictures-including the image capturing the boy’s moment of shyness-went viral on leading news portals and social networks in both countries.

On his Chinese microblog and Twitter accounts, Trudeau posted another lakeside picture taken by a photographer behind the two couples to include the lake in the foreground, and so did not include the children and the trampoline.

But Chinese netizens did not forget Xavier.

“Your son is so great!” said @Youkemanmianbao.

“Your son’s covering his face is very cute, and he surely will be a celebrity in China,” said @BaiyanlangV106.

Trudeau’s father was well known as a supporter and contributor to the bilateral relationship, and many observers in both countries have pinned hopes on Justin Trudeau to continue the legacy of diplomacy.

Meanwhile, the family diplomacy episode seems to have attracted far more public attention inside and outside China than the official talks between the two leaders.

As of noon on Sept 23, another tweet by Trudeau about the welcoming ceremony and talks received 130 “likes”, while the tweet of the lakeside chat received 2,414.

Similarly, the same postings on his Chinese microblog received 427 and 1,877 thumbs up, respectively.

Family diplomacy also took place when Trudeau and his wife traveled to China about three weeks ago with their daughter.

Premier Li and his wife entertained the Canadian family by inviting them to the Forbidden City and a dinner.

Therefore, Trudeau wrote in his recent lakeside tweet, they spent a “beautiful night to return the hospitality” by Premier Li and his wife.

Zhong Feiteng, a researcher on Asia-Pacific studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that behind the attention and support for the family diplomacy between Premier Li and Trudeau is the public’s yearning to see the personal charm of leaders.

“There is a stereotype of China in the Western community that China’s diplomacy is quite stiff or mechanical, while the fact is we have a wide spectrum of tools for diplomacy, and Premier Li has shown great confidence when socializing on various occasions,” Zhong said.

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