17 Jun 2014

China’s Premier Li – on EU reform and the Scottish question

In the grandeur of the Foreign Office for the Chinese premier’s joint press conference with David Cameron.

Pre News refresh player – this is the default player for the C4 news site – please do not delete. Ziad

Chinese governmental visits are normally even more painfully formulaic than other countries’ trips.

But Premier Keqiang Li is a bit more relaxed. He smiled a lot, interrupted Mr Cameron and seemed to be reading his speaker notes, and rather took over the chairing of the press conference, a role normally left to the host.

Scottish independence

The Chinese ambassador had a plum seat near the front for the press conference. His curtain-raiser chat with the British press mocked Britain as below Germany and France.

Premier Li said he’d read about that and talked to the ambassador about it.

It reminded him of the province he once ran wanting to be better than its neighbours.

Read more: Goodbye Hu, hello who?

It was a slightly opaque answer but he didn’t seem to be crossing the road to kill off the insult.

He said Europe should stay united and then, daringly, tried to take on the Cybernats. He said the UK should stay united. The master of mighty cyber armies taking on the guerrilla forces of Scottish nationalism. Good luck to him.

Mr Cameron gave the Chinese premier a nod of agreement as he garnered his latest (and most controversial) overseas endorsement for Better Together.

European Commission president

In one answer on Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Cameron matched Angela Merkel’s “no threats” slapdown in Sweden with a riposte of his own.

If you believe in reform of Europe you should “stand up and fight for it”. He didn’t name her.

Read more: Who are the new, most powerful men in China?

He can deny such intent. But calling for reformists to stop cowering will not be popular. Ms Merkel loathes megaphone diplomacy.

In some ways he sounded like he expected to lose this battle over the next EU commission president and to go down fighting – “I’ll go on opposing that right up to the end,” he said.

Straight after the press conference, Mr Cameron took Premier Li to a business conference in Downing Street at which, intriguingly, Christine Lagarde was present.

Follow @GaryGibbonBlog on Twitter

Tweets by @garygibbonc4