Ties with Britain unscathed by Queen's 'rude' comment, China paper says, blaming Western media 'barbarians'

Britain's Queen Elizabeth speaks to Commander Lucy D'Orsi during a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London on May 10, 2016.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth speaks to Commander Lucy D'Orsi during a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London on May 10, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING – Ties between China and Britain will not be harmed by Queen Elizabeth being caught on camera saying Chinese officials were “very rude”, said an influential Chinese newspaper on Thursday (May 12).

The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said it was inconceivable that British officials had intentionally leaked the video because such a move would be “truly boorish and rude”. 

“The West in modern times has risen to the top and created a brilliant civilisation, but their media is full of reckless ‘gossip fiends’ who bare their fangs and brandish their claws and are very narcissistic, retaining the bad manners of ‘barbarians’,” it said in an editorial published on Thursday.

 
 

“As they experience constant exposure to the 5,000 years of continuous Eastern civilisation, we believe they will make progress” when it comes to manners, it added in the Chinese-language piece, which was not published in English.

It said that friction between officials was to be expected when they have to work closer together as bilateral ties grew stronger. 

​While Chinese officials most probably had made similar complaints about British bureaucrats in private, they tend to be more careful to prevent leaks to the media, it added.

The Global Times newspaper, which is close to China’s ruling Communist Party, blamed the British media for blowing the incident out of proportion and fawning over the footage as if it was “the most precious treasure”.

In a rare diplomatic gaffe, the British monarch was caught on camera on Tuesday at a Buckingham Palace garden party making unguarded comments about a state visit in October last year by President Xi Jinping, reported Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

“They were very rude to the ambassador,” the Queen said, referring to Chinese officials. 

The remarks made headlines worldwide on Wednesday but were initially largely censored in China, blacked out of BBC World transmissions, according to the British broadcaster. But the news made its way to China’s social media. 

A columnist at Chinese website “Today’s Headlines” recalled visible mutual discomfort during the three-day sojourn, describing it as “thought-provoking awkwardness” and adding it “primarily arose out of cultural and political differences”.

Some netizens said the episode was a lesson to be learnt, reported Agence France-Presse.

“We’re already embarrassed by talk about what our average people get up to abroad,” said one. “Being embarrassed by our officials abroad is even worse.” 

The 90-year-old British monarch never expresses overtly political views in public and is known for her discretion, never granting an interview in her 64-year reign. Buckingham Palace would not comment on a "private conversation" but said all parties worked closely to ensure the visit proceeded smoothly.

China’s Foreign Ministry had downplayed the queen’s comments and said both sides agreed President Xi’s trip had been a big success.

The British media on Thursday continued to have a field day over details of the diplomatic row. 

The Daily Mail said a stand-off ensued when the Chinese side tried to get a security official - not the official translator - into the Queen’s carriage with her and the visiting Chinese leader during the state visit. 

A senior Tory was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail: “There was a stand-off and our protection people were shouldered aside. There’s an issue here about bullying, uncomprehending Chinese police. This security should be done by us, not them.”