Monday, December 2, 2013

The Return of VVIP

So, after four weeks of frantic preparation and three years after his last visit, PM David Cameron, several Ministers and a 125-strong business delegation touched down at 7am in Beijing at the start of an intense three-day China visit. 
In the build-up, the programme changed constantly, right up to the day before, which unfortunately meant that Hangzhou dropped by the wayside, but still includes Shanghai and Chengdu. 
And what was my role in all this? I led on Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport's programme, and I must say (not because I have to!), she was very nice.
This will all be in the news, so here are half-a-dozen in-the-margins asides:
  • For the last few weeks we could only use the term VVIP and could never mention dates which was quite difficult when trying to organize events. "Can't say who it's for or when exactly, but is it OK with you?"   
  • The PM really is followed around by a man with a red briefcase.
  • Cameron has a Chinese weibo blog: if you press google-translate it says: "Hi, I am a Prime Minister! Sign up microblogging powder me, I am ready to share the latest!"
  • The PM was driven to the Great Hall of the People in a Chinese-made Hongqi (meaning Red Flag) car which is traditionally used for conveying dignatories.
  • Nice to bump into some less famous friends and acquaintances, here with the delegation, including designer Michael Young who I last saw in a Tokyo bar ten years ago, which prompted us to celebrate with a bottle of Asahi.
  • We knocked over a Christmas Tree in the Grand Hyatt, narrowly missing (though she wasn't aware of it) Zaha Hadid. It was a small one. 
And then, off they went on a chartered Virgin Atlantic flight to Shanghai. 

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