China’s President Xi Jinping on Tuesday kicked off the first full day of his state visit to the UK with plenty of pomp and ceremony — as well as a protest led by human rights advocates that was countered by a pro-Chinese faction.
Mr Xi’s trip marks the first state visit to Britain by a Chinese president in a decade, and it has been dominated by a wave of rhetoric about a “golden era” in relations between the UK and China.
From his ceremonial welcome by the Queen on Horse Guards Parade to the protests greeting his arrival, here is a look at Mr Xi’s big day in London.
Taking a ride
Queen Elizabeth II escorted Mr Xi in a golden carriage for the short journey from Horse Guards Parade to Buckingham Palace. Making their way down the thoroughfare, the duo were drawn in the gilded Diamond Jubilee state coach by white horses.
Crowds cheer, jeer
Crowds lined the route along The Mall to mark the Chinese president’s arrival. A mix of Xi fans and protesters watched the royal coach travel to Buckingham Palace as chants of “Free Tibet” and “China!” mingled amid drumming from the pro-Chinese demonstrators gathered at the scene.
Mr Xi and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, inspected the guard of honour on Horse Guards Parade. As part of the official welcoming ceremony, the pair walked past the rows of guardsmen sporting red tunics and bearskins. Before Mr Xi and Prince Philip carried out the inspection, the president was welcomed by a 41-gun salute.
But it was not all fanfare for the visiting president in London. Several hundred protesters, largely from groups such as Free Tibet and Amnesty International, convened to demonstrate against China’s human rights abuses and to call for the UK government to put human rights on the visit’s agenda. These protesters were faced by a counter-protest, however, as a pro-China faction was also out in force to support the president.
The president arrives
Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan landed at Heathrow airport on Monday night for a four-day state visit. They were greeted on behalf of the Queen by Viscount Hood, while Philip Hammond, foreign secretary, also met the pair at the airport. Mr Hammond later tweeted it was a “pleasure” to greet the president at the start of a trip he wrote would “lay the foundations” for the next 10 years of UK-China relations.
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