So, here's a typical Ministerial visit. Breakfast meeting with the Ambassador, a speech to open an internet forum and a meeting with the Minister of the State Council Information Office, all in a hotel. Then across town to the Great Hall of the People for a meeting with the Vice Premier of the Propaganda Department followed by a stroll across Tiananmen Square to an informal lunch with some of our arts contacts. Off then to the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television, and then the Ministry of Culture. Then across to 798 for our London Guest City Party, part of Beijing Design Week, with a good crowd. It was all going so well until I got separated from my charge and he was taken on a little unscheduled tour of the preserved factories. Consequently he slipped behind schedule and, with terrible traffic thrown in for good measure, arrived late for a banquet.
Is all this typical of a Ministerial visit? Probably, although the public sector cuts meant that he didn't bring a Private Secretary with him. So most of the onus fell on me and my faithful colleague Haining. One day down, another half-day to go.