China state visit: No surprises for President Xi Jinping at leaders’ press conference

At events such as these, so I hear, China’s journalists are handed questions their leader expects to be asked

Andy McSmith@andymcsmith
Wednesday 21 October 2015 21:33

The two leaders took only two questions at their press conference. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg managed an intricate query that took in the closure of steel works, the carriage in which Mr Xi was conveyed to Buckingham Palace, and civil rights in China.

The one from an unnamed Chinese journalist was simpler. President Xi has the New Silk Road project to boost China’s underdeveloped western province, Xinjiang; Mr Cameron has the Northern Powerhouse. What did President Xi think of that? He had a written answer at the ready.

At events such as these, so I hear, China’s journalists are handed questions their leader expects to be asked.

Chinese viewers given a partial account of events

An interesting blog by Sky’s Asia correspondent, Katie Stallard, gives a run-down of which bits of the state visit are not being reported on Chinese media. Some of the BBC World News’s coverage was shown, but the protests on the Mall were cut.

Chinese viewers saw the Speaker, John Bercow, introducing President Xi to a joint session of the Houses of Parliament, but not the part of his speech in which he mentioned Burma’s Nobel prize-winning campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Chinese media reported that Mr Xi had had a private meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, but glossed over what was discussed.

He said what?

“It was difficult because, erm, that’s his ex-wife who is, erm, apparently an ex-prostitute,” is what Jeremy Corbyn is alleged to have said to David Cameron as they sat side by side waiting for President Xi Jinping to address MPs and peers on Tuesday afternoon, according to a lip reader hired by The Sun.

This set people wondering. Who on earth they could be talking about? Could it have been Mike Weatherly, who quit Parliament in May after five years as Conservative MP for Hove? In 2010, the Sunday Mirror revealed that his Brazilian wife, now his ex-wife, was hiring out her body for £70 a time. But why would Jeremy Corbyn be talking to the Prime Minister about a former backbench Tory MP?

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman says the story is just untrue: he never said anything about anybody’s ex-wife being a sex worker.

What’s in a name? Quite a lot for Cameron

One question with which many of us are struggling is how to pronounce “Xi”. David Cameron obviously wanted to get it right as he held a joint press conference with the President in Downing Street. He was speaking from typed notes, which he left on the rostrum as the press conference ended, whereupon Channel 4’s Cathy Newman nimbly expropriated the top page. On it was written, in large letters, in black felt tip pen: “Shee”. So that is how Downing Street thinks you should pronounce it.

‘Sherlock’ to be screened with censors’ approval

The BBC drama Sherlock is set to be screened in cinemas across China under a deal agreed between the corporation and the Shanghai Media Group. The Sherlock Christmas special will be launched at a global cinema screening. Subject to approval from Chinese regulators, and censors, the feature-length episode will be screened in China.

The BBC partnerships have been agreed despite complaints that access to the BBC’s English-language website has been blocked across China.

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