London’s Chinatown gears up to welcome Xi

World Today

London's ChinatownLondon’s Chinatown

Chinese President Xi Jinping headed to his official state visit to the U.K. on Monday. For the past few weeks London has been anxiously gearing up to welcome the president.

Since September, London’s Chinatown, located on Gerrard Street, has been festively decorated to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese National Day. Now the busy streets in the area have become even more colorful, with additional red lanterns and over 1,000 Chinese and U.K. national flags added to celebrate Xi’s visit to the U.K.

Good wishes displayed on large banners can also be seen everywhere in London’s Chinatown these days, as many residents are excited by Xi’s visit and the prospect of building an even stronger rapport between both countries.

“I feel very excited. As President Xi proposes in the Belt and Road initiative, we hope that the Chinese and U.K. governments could have more economic and cultural exchanges and mutual understandings,” said Song Chuanlong, a Chinese tour operator.

Cabs running on London’s streets were partaking in the Chinese celebrations. Fifty photos, selected from a photo contest showcasing the beauty of China from the eyes of tourists, were displayed on the iconic London’s cabs owned by the Chinese company Geely.  Geely has recently been in the news, because they planed to make London black cabs environmentally friendly.

It’s been called a “golden era” for China-U.K. relations, and local residents said they look forward to seeing more pragmatic cooperation between the two nations, especially as London tried to develop itself as a center for offshore RMB business.

With Prince William inaugurating the U.K. season in the China-U.K. Cultural Year 2015, U.K. politician Michael Walton Bates said cultural links between the two countries contributed to their close friendship.

“We want to forge a much closer link between China and the U.K. based on trade but also on culture, education…also celebrating the wonderful Chinese community here in the U.K.  These are all reasons why I am sure the visit will be a great success,” said Bates.