G20 summit: Flying fish leaps into Theresa May’s boat, Italian PM Matteo Renzi falls over trying to kick it back into the water

World leaders were taking a boat tour as part of cultural activities laid on by the Chinese government

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 05 September 2016 10:30
Matteo Renzi back on dry land at the G20 summit in Hangzhou
Matteo Renzi back on dry land at the G20 summit in Hangzhou

The G20 in Hangzhou has been intricately planned and executed with daunting efficiency. But even the Chinese government, with its legion of officials, could not avoid the subversive act of a fish.

It happened when they least expected it. During a relaxing boat tour on a lake, supposed to give world leaders a chance to kick back, enjoy a meal, a drink and each other's company.

Theresa May was on one of two boats and had been chatting happily with Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when nature struck. The victim was Mrs May's respected Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi.

Reports suggest that as the leaders mingled, a fish made a death-leap from the deep, straight into their boat, causing a furore as prime ministers and presidents tried to avoid getting their evening-wear covered in lake water.

Mr Renzi, however, stepped forward. Perhaps it's not surprising given his nickname “Il Rottamatore”, meaning “the scrapper”.

The Independent understands that Renzi may have tried to usher the fish back into the lake with his foot, but in an act of sublime irony ended up taking a tumble on the deck himself.

White House and Chinese officials clash at start of G20

It is probably just as well there was some excitement, as over dinner the jetlagged leaders were subjected to a symphony orchestra programme consisting of a piece of music from every country in the G20. For the UK, the orchestra played “Annie Laurie”, a piece based on and old Scottish poem.

The meal consisted of pine mushroom soup, stir fried shrimps with longjing tea leaves and orange-flavoured crab meat washed down with Chinese wine.

There was also a performance consisting of a series of light and dance shows on different themes. It began with a set inspired by a poem written 1,300 years ago during the Tang dynasty, followed by a local ditty from Hangzhou and then interludes from Swan Lake, Clair de Lune and some Beethoven.

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