A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson has called President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United Kingdom last year “a great success” while giving an ambiguous reply as to whether relations between the two countries were still in a “golden era”.

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At a Buckingham Palace garden party on Tuesday, the Queen was overheard telling Commander Lucy D’Orsi that Chinese officials had been “very rude” to the British ambassador during the state visit. On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang was asked what his response was towards the Queen’s comments at a press conference.

“President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK last October was a great success, thanks to the enormous efforts made by teams of the two sides. Both China and the UK highly recognised that,” Lu said.

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Lu Kang speaking at a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: fmprc.gov.cn.

When asked whether he was concerned that the comments would affect bilateral relations, Lu said: “China and the UK agree that President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK last October was a great success, and that the two sides made arduous efforts to make it happen. President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK last October ushered in a “golden era” for the bilateral relations. This is also echoed by the British side.”

However, when asked to confirm whether this “golden era” was still intact, he merely repeated his previous remarks on Xi’s “successful” visit, adding that “the two sides are now working together to implement various agreements reached during the state visit.”

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Queen Elizabeth at the garden party. Photo: Youtube screenshot.

Lu also dodged a question about whether he was surprised by the Queen’s remarks. “I have already said what I can say. [How] about you spell out what is still on your mind?” he said to a reporter.

‘Reckless gossip fields’

Following widespread coverage of the Queen’s off-guard comments, Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times published an editorial slamming the British media for the disproportionate attention it gave to the incident, dubbing reporters “reckless gossip fiends” and “bad-mannered barbarians”.

According to the Guardian, a few party-controlled newspapers covered the story in hopes of downplaying it, while BBC World reports on the subject were censored. However, the episode did not escape the attention of netizens.

“[The Queen] wears diamonds stolen from India and says Chinese are impolite; the museums are filled with items from all over the world, many of which are from China,” said one commenter on Toutiao, a popular Chinese news website and app.

Many Chinese netizens also referred to the United Kingdom’s behaviour during the Opium Wars in the 19th century – the second of which saw the burning down and looting of The Old Summer Palace in Beijing by British soldiers.

Others were more embarrassed by the behaviour of the Chinese side. “Who actually is that official [the Queen mentioned]? Didn’t he know he was representing China?”

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.