As David Cameron sat down for his second meal containing fungus in two days, having smilingly presented the Chinese premier with a copy of Thatcher's biography, he might have thought he was making a great impression of the UK's global prowess.
Not to the leader writers at the Global Times, a daily Chinese tabloid. Known for its populist headlines, this morning's damning editorial was entitled "China Won't Fall For Cameron's 'Sincerity'."
"The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese. It is just an old European country apt for travel and study," the paper's editors wrote.
"This has gradually become the habitual thought of the Chinese people."
Cameron is not winning over the Chinese press
The paper is owned by the People's Daily, an organ of the Communist Party of China.
A few days before the visit, Cameron opened a Sina Weibo account, the Chinese version of Twitter, sending out the message: “Hello my friends in China. I’m pleased to have joined Weibo and look forward to visiting China very soon.”
Before flying out to China on his second visit as Prime Minister, Cameron said he wanted to increase the 100,000-plus Chinese students already in the UK. But the visit has been primarily aimed at improving trade between the two nations.
Downing Street said that the PM's visit, at the head of the largest UK business delegation ever to visit China, has already resulted in deals valued at £5.6 billion which could create 1,500 jobs in Britain.
Further down, the editorial said the Prime Minister had still not been forgiven by the Chinese people for the meeting with the Dalai Lama last year, and said the UK should be made to "pay the price".
Beijing has won when it comes to Tibet, the paper said. "The UK, France and Germany dare not make joint provocations toward China over the Dalai Lama issue."
Cameron's determination to avoid addressing human rights issues while on a visit to the nation has been pointed.
Only when pushed by reporters, he said: "I don't believe there is a choice between raising growth and investment issues or raising human rights issues. I raised them both. That's what a policy of engagement is all about.
"There are some huge opportunities here in China for British jobs, British growth, British investment, and I want to make the most of them, and that is right for our country to compete and succeed in the global race."
On a visit earlier this year with Chancellor George Osborne, London Mayor Boris Johnson had to be prompted several times in an interview with Sky News before he would even utter the name of the Tibetan spiritual leader
The visit this week may be seen as an "ice-breaker" in the frosty relations between London and Beijing, the Global Times said, noting that "this year, China has been actively engaged in relations with Germany and France, which propels the urgency of the Cameron administration to end the chilliness of bilateral relations".
It also pointed out the "real situation" of China's relations with Europe, "especially when yesterday, the British Royal Navy's Chief of Staff, Admiral George Zambellas met with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and supported Japan's stance toward China's recently declared Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea.
"This has added doubts over Cameron's sincerity in improving ties with China".
"There is no need to talk about 'sincerity' in terms of Sino-British relations. What Cameron does is out of his own political interest and the UK's national interest.
"His visit this time can hardly be the end of the conflict between China and the UK."
Ending abruptly, the editorial said: "Finally, let us show courtesy to Cameron and wish him a pleasant trip".
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