As Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández backed out of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, his ambassador delivered a final message to Chinese leader Xi Jinping: “Without the Communist party, there would be no new China!” The jingoistic line — the title of a famous revolutionary song — was received warmly. “Well said, well said,” Xi responded last week from behind a surgical mask embossed with the red flag of the People’s Republic of China. “Thank you for your support.”
The exchange — later broadcast by Chinese state media — was one of a series of meetings held between China’s leaders and more than 30 autocrats, democratic leaders and royals on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics.
They came to Beijing despite US calls for a diplomatic boycott in protest at Xi’s crackdowns on Xinjiang and Hong Kong and highlighted China’s new standing in the international order, according to former government officials and China foreign policy experts. “The vision of foreign heads of state speed dating with Xi Jinping in Beijing is something to behold,” said Nadège Rolland, a former senior adviser to the French defence ministry, who compared it with the ancient Chinese tributary system.