Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Apple denies security breach in celebrity photo leak

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Apparent beheading of Steven Sotloff sees more calls for #IsisMediaBlackout

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Lesotho Coup: Exiled Prime Minister vows to return home after fleeing

Read more

DEBATE

Child Migrants In America: What to do about the wave of unaccompanied minors? (Part Two)

Read more

DEBATE

Child Migrants In America: What to do about the wave of unaccompanied minors?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Abbas Araghchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

FOCUS

When water becomes a weapon of war

Read more

ENCORE!

Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

Read more

  • IS video purports to show beheading of second US journalist

    Read more

  • Obama orders 350 more US troops to Baghdad

    Read more

  • France’s former first lady lifts lid on 'cold' Hollande

    Read more

  • French mum reunited with daughter 'kidnapped by jihadist father'

    Read more

  • Video: Bodies ‘left behind’ as Ukraine forces flee rebel assault

    Read more

  • Trust and 'bio-disaster units' needed to fight Ebola

    Read more

  • France vows crackdown on unemployment benefit ‘abusers’

    Read more

  • Could France sell the Mona Lisa to pay off its debts?

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces advance on IS as protesters storm parliament

    Read more

  • Germany blocks popular car pick-up service Uber

    Read more

  • Several UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

    Read more

  • French clubs left behind as others spend big

    Read more

  • Arab media strike back at IS Islamists – with cartoons

    Read more

  • NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia

    Read more

  • When water becomes a weapon of war

    Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

    Read more

World leaders gather in Beijing

Latest update : 2008-08-17

The sight of dozens of heads of state, among them the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, queuing to congratulate President Hu Jintao, appeared to put the usually stiff Communist Party boss at ease.

SPECIAL REPORT: The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games


BEIJING - With more than 80 state leaders and royals in Beijing to attend Friday's opening of the Olympic Games, trying to work out who would sit where at a welcome  lunch hosted by Chinese President Hu Jintao could have been a problem. And trying to work out what to feed them could have  presented as many issues as trying to ensure nobody sat next to  a political rival, or even a state enemy.
 

Protocol officials appeared to settle on a seating plan  that reflected China's hopes of using the Games to win over
often wary world powers while reflecting the country's focus on  making Asian friends.
 

In the run-up to the Games, China has weathered criticism  from Western leaders over human rights and Tibet. But the sight  of them and dozens of other leaders queuing to congratulate Hu  appeared to put the usually stiff Communist Party boss at ease.
 

On the top table -- one of nine in a cavernous function  room in the Great Hall of the People -- sat Hu, seated next to  his wife on one side and International Olympic Committee  President Jacques Rogge on the other as guest of honour.
 

U.S. President George W. Bush, who riled China before his
arrival by criticising its rights record, also sat next to
Rogge, and could be seen chatting amiably to Hu before lunch
started, with the help of an interpreter.
 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a strong friend of
China, also sat at the top table -- but so did Japanese Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda and French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
both of whose countries have had testy ties with China.
 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, on the next table over, was
seated beside Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in a sign
of unusual favour to the Mandarin-speaking Australian.
 

Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet was on Wen's other
side, the border war of a few decades ago and lingering
mistrust apparently forgotten for the day.
 

Taiwan's Lien Chan, honorary head of the island's ruling
Kuomintang, which once ruled all of China, sat at the table
below Hu's, with Jia Qinglin, the Chinese Communist Party's
fourth-ranked leader. Lien was applauded briefly on his
arrival.
 

Ties have warmed considerably between China and the island
it claims as its own since Ma Ying-jeou won the presidency
earlier this year on a pledge of better ties with Beijing. The
two have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese
civil war in 1949.
 

The menu? Nothing controversial, and no pork, in deference
to Muslim and Jewish guests such as the Malaysian king and
Israeli President Shimon Peres.
 

To start, lantern-shaped delicacies, followed by pine
mushroom chicken soup in a white gourd.
 

Beefstake wrapped in a lotus leaf, seasonal greens in a
bird's nest -- surely a reference to the main Olympic Bird's
Nest stadium -- and Peking duck followed, along with cod in soy
sauce.
 

Date created : 2008-08-08

COMMENT(S)