Premier Li Keqiang watched an Australian football game with his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, in Sidney on March 25, while wearing two scarves sent by the two clubs playing the game — the Sydney Swans and Port Adelaide.
“I wore both of them to show Chinese people’s love and passion for all Australians,” said the Premier. “I will cheer for you all, no matter which side wins.”
Premier Li’s visit schedule seemed easy and casual, but it was an Australian way he used to interact with Australian people. It was a “good shot” in the Premier’s diplomacy, experts said.
Australians are keen on Australian football. When watching games, fans in the stands always wear scarves in the same color as their favorite team’s uniform.
Before the game started, Premier Li met with the players and practiced how to catch and pass a ball. He also received a blue scarf from the president of Port Adelaide, while Turnbull wore a red one, showing he is a fan of Sydney Swans.
“It seems like we have a divergence,” the Premier joked.
When they walked to the stands, a Sydney Swans’s fan threw a red-and-white scarf to Premier Li. “It seems like a contest is underway that both clubs are competing to send their scarves to you,” Turnbull said.
Premier Li wore both, saying in English, “I’ve said that I will not take a side.”
I will cheer for you all no matter which side wins
Watching the football match captured wide attention during the Premier’s tour. At the welcome luncheon on March 23, Turnbull and Australian opposition party leader Bill Shorten both recommended their hometown football team to Premier Li.
In a speech delivered on March 25, Turnbull said he was delighted to watch the first match of this season with Premier Li in his hometown.
It shows Australia-China cooperation is expanding into wider areas, including sports as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Turnbull said.
The Premier said he was impressed by the Australian peoples’ hospitality towards Chinese people and the force of sports.
“Prime Minister Turnbull advised me to wear the Port Adelaide’s scarf. I think I would wear both teams’ scarves even though the weather is not cold at all, to show my love and support for both of them,” the Premier said. The entire audience burst into laughter.
“I will cheer for you all no matter which side wins,” Premier Li added.
The Premier then knotted the two scarves together and wore them around his neck, which drew loud cheers from the whole audience.
“I welcome Prime Minister Turnbull to come to Shenyang next year when Australia builds a consulate there. It is very cold there, so we will give you a local scarf to keep warm,” Premier Li said.
The audience burst into laughter again, applauded and cheered for a while.
“Your visit has made remarkable achievements.”
Australian football is famous for its fast rhythm, fierce fighting, and observable actions.
In spite of his strong interest in the game, Premier Li had to leave for New South Wales at the break of the first round. “This is the first time I have watched an Australian football game. It’s very interesting!” Premier Li told Turnbull.
Turnbull, accompanying Premier Li out of Sydney Cricket Ground and into the car, said Premier Li gained wide popularity in Australia, which can be seen from their walk along the Sydney Harbor.
Premier Li expressed his confidence in China-Australia’s future relationship and invited Turnbull to China.
“Your visit made remarkable achievements and I’m more confident in future ties between our two countries,” Turnbull responded.