Premier Li Keqiang will meet Queen Elizabeth when he visits Britain next week, an unusual meeting that observers say shows how aware China has become of its world status.
Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Chao announced the royal meeting in Beijing yesterday. An earlier report in The Times of London said the trip would be in jeopardy unless the royal meeting was on the agenda.
Analysts declined to speculate on the report, noting some other non-heads of state had also met the queen. But they agreed the encounter suggested a significant agreement between the two countries.
"Such an audience is politically significant and the confirmation of the meeting suggests an important political agreement between the two nations," said Tian Dewen , a researcher in European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese politics and director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said: "It just shows how aware China is now of its status and prestige, so that it can demand the protocol treatment it desires."
But Brown said the Chinese must be aware of the queen's limited political influence.
"Hopefully the UK has used the Chinese love of status-enhancement gestures like this to get some much more meaningful concessions in return," he said.
Li is expected to discuss financial matters, including London's role as a yuan trading centre, during his visit, which begins on Monday. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister David Cameron the next day at 10 Downing Street.
Talks with Cameron would cover trade, investment, energy and cultural exchanges, Wang said.
Wen Ruchun , daughter of ex-premier Wen Jiabao , has been accused by The Daily Telegraph in Britain of using her influence to obtain a professorship at Cambridge University via the Chung Hua Foundation, a charity. The report quoted Vivien Wang, founder of the EtonKids kindergarten chain, as providing information about the link between Wen Ruchun and the charity. Wang said yesterday she had never spoken to the newspaper. "At no time did I say any of the quotes attributed to me, or anything remotely similar," she said.