When Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang arrived at the Grand Hyatt hotel for his official banquet on August 17, I was sitting by the window at the luxurious Steakhouse with a napkin waiting for my tomato salad appetizer. I had the good fortune of celebrating my birthday with a steak dinner at the treat of a very rich friend of mine, who had declined an invitation to the Li banquet one hall over and generously decided that my company that evening was a social choice of much better taste. I had come into the Steakhouse through the back entrance of the Grand Hyatt hotel by the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Heavy security measures were applied, including the set-up of a temporary electronic scanning arch, making the back entrance look a bit like LAX. I took off my watch and surrendered my iPhone and wallet to the uniformed policewoman as instructed. While she scrutinized my wallet by examining my credit card and ID, I asked the madam briskly if I needed to strip myself naked. “You’d be very impressed,” I said. The poker-faced madam blushed as I seized such a rare window for sexual harassment toward a policewoman without fear of being charged, and enjoyed it. It was too big a day for the police, and I was, by taking such a verbal advantage, too petty a criminal for them to mess about with. The waiters at the Steakhouse took out a few black placard screens to cover up the windows, obstructing our view of the incoming Chinese premier (his promotion is allegedly being confirmed next March) as Li was about to get out of his limousine. I protested to the dining room manager: “Hey, you’re depriving us of a nice view, the value of which, as far as I understand, is reflected in your $1,200 filet mignon.” It is odd to feel like you are in the old film “The Thief of Baghdad,” in which civilians are forbidden to catch sight of the princess when she comes out of the castle. I itched to remove the black screens and break the royal law to see if I would be arrested and executed, but changed my mind because the face of a senior Chinese official, which looked very much same as the other faces in his clan, was less tempting than the beauty in the legend of One Thousand and One Nights. The next day, when a controversial Li embarked on a more controversial journey that took him to the “dragon throne” in Loke Yew Hall at the University of Hong Kong, police sealed off half of Hong Kong Island. I had the misfortune of driving on traffic-snarled Pok Fu Lam Road and thought that I was entering some kind of military zone in Beruit. I could see taxi drivers swearing through the windshields. Then I saw Li’s speech in the evening. He had an unusually dark complexion. But if this is the kind of PR image the SAR government wants to create of its future master, I’m afraid the world will associate our next premier with some chiefs in Africa rather than someone as bright as Obama.