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    May 12, 2016

    Beijing mum on Queen's comments


    CHINA yesterday refused to comment on the filmed, apparently unguarded, remarks made by Queen Elizabeth II about Chinese officials being rude and behaving testily during President Xi Jinping's state visit to Britain last year.

    She had made the remarks on Tuesday at a Buckingham Palace garden party held to mark her 90th birthday.

    When being introduced to Lucy D'Orsi, the Metropolitan Police Service commander, whom the Lord Chamberlain William Peel described as the person in charge of security during Mr Xi's visit last year, the queen quipped "oh, bad luck", the Daily Mail reported.

    And when Ms D'Orsi asked the queen whether she knew the visit was "quite a testing time for her", the monarch said affirmatively, "yes, I did".

    The queen also made known that she is fully aware of the incident in which Chinese officials threatened to call off the trip when they walked out of a meeting held in Lancaster House, near Buckingham, which was attended by Ms D'Orsi and the British ambassador to China Barbara Woodward.

    "They were very rude to the ambassador," said the queen.

    The conversation was caught on camera by the queen's official pool cameraman Peter Wilkinson, who fed the footage to the BBC, ITV and Sky broadcasters, his actual employers.

    It was aired and widely reported across the world.

    Responding to foreign media queries at a regular press briefing in Beijing yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was not aware of the queen's remarks as well as any incident that had nearly caused Mr Xi's visit last year to be aborted.

    When pressed to say whether China was embarrassed by the queen's remarks, Mr Lu replied snappily: "I've already given my answer and you all have already got a good laugh. So what you really want to ask, please get it out," Taiwan's United Daily News reported.

    "President Xi's visit to the United Kingdom last year was a very successful one. Both sides have made great efforts for the success of the visit and the two sides highly recognised that," the Guardian newspaper quoted Mr Lu as saying.

    The London Metropolitan Police yesterday said it would not comment on the private conversation.

    Ms D'Orsi also refrained from commenting, saying she had just chatted with the queen about the difficulties involved in being a working mother, and her own mother, who was also present, shared some thoughts about being a grandmother.

    Although Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that the Chinese state visit "got a bit stressful on both sides", he said "big state visits are big logistic challenges".

    Michel Hockx, director of the China Institute in the School of Oriental and African Studies, told BBC that some Chinese netizens believed the conversation was scripted to inflict embarrassment on China.

    Sino-British relations plunged briefly in 2012 after Prime Minister David Cameron met exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

    Mr Xi's state visit last year helped revitalise the ties and was hailed as a success by both sides as Britain pulled out all the stops to fete the leader of the world's second largest economy.

    Prince William and his wife turned up at the glittering evening banquet thrown for Mr Xi, who stayed as the queen's guest at Buckingham Palace.

    He also dined with Mr Cameron at Chequers, the latter's country estate, and visited Manchester City's football academy on a day trip.