As Knightsbridge is filled with supporters and opposition anticipating Xi's arrival at the fine Mandarin Oriental, the world awaits as Xi steps foot on British soil. The next few days will involve processions, banquets and ceremonies - all to welcome the leader of the Middle Kingdom. Both the Prime Minister and the Queen have taken time out of their hectic schedules to welcome President Xi to England and to ensure that he is well pampered during his stay.
The public has also taken to the streets to show their support. China flags fly proudly in the air whilst red and yellow face paint are in abundance. The media of course flock collectively to report this grandiose occasion, whilst civil organisations liaise with the police forces to coordinate the security of the event.
Of course, as the leader of China, Xi has earned a great deal of respect, not only from his peers and country, but from the international field too. With China's exponential economic growth that has accelerated it from an economic third world country to a first world country rival, any leader of China at this point deserves respect. However, is the extravagant welcome really necessary? For what purpose does it serve?
Take, for example, the opposite occurrence: Prime Minister David Cameron visits Beijing for the first time in 10 years. Would such a magnificent welcome be arranged? Would thousands of Brits in China line the streets to welcome him, patriotically waving the Union Jack? Would we really expect the Chinese government to adjust its security forces to accommodate Mr Cameron? Would any Brit eagerly wait outside of whatever hotel Cameron is staying in to ensure that he is warmly welcomed and supported?
So what's the difference? Both President Xi and Prime Minister Cameron are political leaders of great nations - positions that deserve the utmost respect of the nation's people. Of course, in terms of population numbers, President Xi has an unparalleled representation, but in terms of political power and status, the UK and China hold similar weight.
The difference thereby, is the way in which the two countries recognise politicians. The Prime Minister of England has a moderately respected status, which can slip away from him, depending on his performance, whereas the President of China clearly holds a glorified and deified status. Like an A-list celebrity, Xi is enshrined by red carpets and luxuries, wherever he may be.
So what exactly is the significance of this visit? Cameron has insisted that engaging with China is within the national interest and has stated that he will discuss the Tata Steel's job losses with the President himself. Aside from this, the four days of the President's stay is above all else, symbolic. It is symbolic of the bilateral relationship between the East and the West facilitated through warm hospitality.
Indeed, over the next few days Xi will undoubtedly engage with British politicians and leaders to fruitfully discuss bilateral agreements, but any pragmatic changes will not occur in its aftermath. More importantly, Britain will show how much Xi is valued by our country by treating him like royalty, irrespective of what the average Brit may think. We will go the extra mile for his visit to ensure that upon his return to China, he leaves with the knowledge that his respect extends beyond the Middle Kingdom's boundaries, reaching the realms of the United Kingdom.
The next question is naturally, why? Why is it so important to respect this President to this extent? After all, we wouldn't go above and beyond to welcome the leader of the free world, Obama, would we? The answer to this is up for debate. Some will argue that the UK wants to use China for their own trade interests. Others will argue that the UK simply fears China and thus needs to kowtow to them. Some might say that international peace and harmony is the political agenda.
In any case, the Xi's visit to the UK is clearly received as an opportunity to demonstrate respect, even though it is packaged as a political trip. Then again, respect in politics is crucial, especially in soft power. So, bring on the ceremonies, banquets and processions! Thanks taxpayer.