CASDEN: Chinese President Xi Jinping headed for a traditional British pub on Thursday, during his state visit, indulging in a beer and a portion of traditional fish and chips with Prime Minister David Cameron.
The two world leaders, in suits but tieless, could be seen awkwardly sipping their ales at The Plough, an establishment close to the British prime minister’s residence of Chequers northwest of London.
“I dropped into The Plough at Cadsden for a pint of IPA and some fish and chips with China’s President Xi,” Cameron tweeted afterwards, along with a picture of him talking to Xi in which hunting guns could be seen hanging on the bare-brick wall behind them.
The pub’s landlord Steve Hollings told AFP that Cameron and Xi had chatted for around three-quarters of an hour and had been “extremely friendly”.
They drank “traditional English bitter” and “traditional English fish and chips”, he said proudly, adding: “I was highly delighted”.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying that Xi’s “only problem” was the lack of salt and vinegar for his fish and chips.
The Sunday Times earlier reported that the trip to the pub was Xi’s idea and cited a source involved in negotiations over the visit saying: “It’s all part of the president’s view of himself as a man of the people.”
The Plough traces its history back to the 16th century when it was a staging post for London coaches.
Its website said the pub “is often host to some very famous patrons” and asks visitors to “remember, they are here for the rest and relaxation too”.
The atmosphere proved a little too relaxing for Cameron during a previous visit to the pub in 2012 with his wife Samantha when the couple left their eight-year-old daughter behind in the pub.
The Camerons only realised their child was not with them when they got home and they went back to pick her up 15 minutes later.
Downing Street declined to say whether Cameron had been drinking.
Cameron himself referred to the incident on Thursday as he chatted with customers at the pub alongside Xi, joking: “I’m not leaving my family in here today”.