It's our 'beautiful communist bicycles' that attract Chinese students to London, says Boris Johnson

Mayor of London joked in a speech that Chinese students are attracted by London's weather and 'beautiful communist bikes'

Kashmira Gander
Monday 14 October 2013 11:54
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Boris Johnson begins a six-day trade mission to Beijing by posing on a  'Boris Bike'
Boris Johnson begins a six-day trade mission to Beijing by posing on a 'Boris Bike'

The Mayor of London was mobbed by Chinese students with camera phones in Beijing’s fashionable art district, on the first day of a six-day trade mission.

During a speech that launched the first official Chinese language website promoting the capital, Boris Johnson asked the crowd in jest whether Chinese students are attracted to the capital because of its “beautiful communist bicycles”, weather and its French restaurants.

At the gallery that was previously a factory, he also said London’s popularity was owed to its “polychromatic” diversity and multitude of higher education institutions.

“I'll tell you what I think it is. It's because we have more universities in London than any other city on Earth - 42 universities in London.

”As the daughter of a great Chinese businessman explained it to me - she said the reason she decided to come and study in London and not in America, because when you go to America you meet Americans, when you come to London you meet the world,“ said Johnson.

He later admitted that Beijing has even more than London, but said: “we gloss over that detail”.

Later, Mr Johnson joked about he and George Osborne singing songs after banquets – an apparent reference to their days as members of the notorious University of Oxford Bullingdon Club, the exclusive all-male drinking society with a reputation for destructive high jinks.

The Chancellor and other Government ministers are also visiting China this week as part of a separate trade mission. Their trips will coincide on Monday when they will both give speeches at Peking University.

The London Mayor was mobbed by Chinese students with camera phones in Beijing’s fashionable art district, on the first day of a six-day trade mission in the country.

During a speech that launched the first official Chinese language website promoting the capital, Boris Johnson asked the crowd in jest whether Chinese students are attracted to the city because of its “beautiful communist bicycles”, weather and its French restaurants.

At the gallery that was previously a factory, he said London also owed its popularity to its “polychromatic” diversity and multitude of higher education institutions.

”I'll tell you what I think it is. It's because we have more universities in London than any other city on Earth - 42 universities in London.

“As the daughter of a great Chinese businessman explained it to me - she said the reason she decided to come and study in London and not in America, [is] because when you go to America you meet Americans, when you come to London you meet the world,” said Johnson.

He later admitted that Beijing has even more universities than London, but said: “we gloss over that detail”.

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