The news was broken by the Sunday Times, which quoted a source involved in negotiations over the trip as saying that Xi is expected to visit a pub near the prime minister's country retreat, Chequers, on Thursday afternoon to enjoy the dish.
“The Chinese are desperate to order fish and chips," the source told the newspaper. "They’ve asked about it repeatedly. I don’t know if they know something we don’t about the Chequers kitchens. It’s all part of the president’s view of himself as a man of the people.”
In the past, Xi has used his food choices to cast himself as an ordinary guy. In 2013, just a few months after he assumed office, he was spotted buying dumplings at a restaurant in Beijing, a clear and deliberate break from the cloistered lives of previous Chinese leaders. Xi has also made public shows of other previously unthinkable acts, such as revealing the inside of his office and carrying his own umbrella.
According to the South China Morning Post, a newspaper based in Hong Kong, fish and chips may be on Xi's mind because they are often portrayed as Britain's national dish in Chinese textbooks for English-language learners — though many in Britain would argue that curry, a dish imported from India, is probably closer to their hearts.
However, Xi's request for fish and chips may run into some hurdles. That is because, according to other sources, his diet isn't quite as everyman as he would lead you to believe. According to the Daily Mail, the Chinese delegation refused a proposed turbot and crab starter at a luncheon at Buckingham Palace because the members do not eat fish from local waters and prefer smoked or cured fish.
Exactly how this will affect Xi's pub lunch of fish and chips is unclear — the dish is often made of local fish and is never smoked or cured. The Daily Mail also reports another detail that may hurt his ordinary-guy image: According to the newspaper, the Chinese delegation has brought its own drinking water on the trip.
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