World leaders and their China tours

Updated: 2013-12-07 14:11

(People's Daily Online)

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Enthusiasts for Historical sites

The splendid Chinese civilization has provided foreign leaders with multiple options for their schedules in China.

Ever since former US president Nixon's icebreaking trip to China, many political leaders across the world, including Castro, Chavez, Lee Kuan Yew, Sarkozy and at least five US presidents, have climbed the Great Wall.

As one of "2013's Most Popular Museums Worldwide" according to Trip Advisor, the largest tourism website in the world, the Terrorcotta Warriors in Xi'an, Shaanxi province elicited a rare smile from Putin the Tough Man, and Korean President Park Geun-hye remarked "This is a dream come true" after visiting the collection.

Aside from these two most-frequented sites by foreigner tourists, Medvedev chose the rather extraordinary Temple of Lord Bao in Anhui, German Chancellor Merkel went to the more bourgeois Nanluoguxiang in Beijing, whereas Chirac visited the Thatched Cottage of Du Fu in Chengdu.

Chinese speakers - well, more or less

Before the China visit, Cameron registered an account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, amassing over 200 thousand followers by December 3. Note that all the posts are in Chinese.

Park Geun-hye opened her speech in Tsinghua University in rather awkward Chinese, but was a master of Chinese proverbs and old sayings.

In contrast to leaders who speed-learned Chinese ahead of their visits, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd is a fluent Chinese speaker, once joking that he could also speak English.

Former prime minister of Kazakhstan Massimov took his degree at the Law School of Wuhan University. Returning to his Alma mater as prime minister, he insisted on communicating in Chinese, claiming to be "half a Wuhan fellow-townsman".

"As well as governmental visits at high level, in order to create a rapport in the host country (leaders) have to pursue a more social path, and that's when cultural exchanges come in handy," said Zhang Yiwu, professor with the Chinese Department of Peking University to a People's Daily reporter.


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