As Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at Buckingham Palace Monday for his first state visit to the United Kingdom, he reportedly had one particular culinary goal: to eat fish and chips at a pub. That outing was said to have been slated for Thursday after Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, visit David Cameron at the British prime minister's country home, Chequers, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.
"The Chinese are desperate to order fish and chips. They’ve asked about it repeatedly," the South China Morning post reported, citing a source quoted in the British newspaper the Sunday Times. Xi, the source added, sees himself as a "man of the people."
Fish and chips ~ Poppy's Camden pic.twitter.com/0JSjboL2F5
— solange (@solangeloubnan) October 20, 2015
During his four-day visit, Xi and his wife were scheduled to stay at Buckingham Palace, meet with Prince Charles at the Mandarin Oriental hotel Tuesday and join Queen Elizabeth II for a banquet in the evening. He was slated to meet with Prince William and Kate Middleton Wednesday -- a busy schedule ahead of Thursday's much-awaited fish and chips meal.
In China, fish and chips is viewed as the iconic British fare, in part because it is included in English textbooks that students in middle school use, according to the South China Morning Post. One problem Xi and his wife may encounter, however, is that fish and chips is normally fried, but the couple eat only cured or smoked fish, the paper reported.
Xi's interest in eating the same food as ordinary people is not limited to his overseas visits. In 2013, he ate at a popular restaurant in Beijing, a story that went viral on social media in the country.
Xi Jinping Eats Some Dumplings at a Restaurant - Matt Schiavenza - The Atlantic http://t.co/cjThWfjjuR
— Kaitlin Solimine 老K (@LetsGoKato) February 11, 2014
Xi's visit is expected to focus on economic relations and boosting trade between the U.K. and China, although protests have been planned by human rights groups, including those who support Tibet and Uighur Muslims, a persecuted minority in Western China, ahead of the visit.
— Free Tibet (@freetibetorg) October 20, 2015
When Xi joined a procession to Buckingham Palace Tuesday, a crowd of both supporters and opponents gathered along the Mall in Central London, the BBC reported.