This Day in History: Queen Elizabeth II Visits China

By Ned Kelly, October 12, 2017

1 0

October 12-18, 1986, saw Queen Elizabeth II become the first British monarch to visit China. One of the most important tours she had ever undertaken, it was seen as a critical piece of diplomacy, coming soon after testing negotiations between the UK and PRC over the return of Hong Kong.

The 99-year lease of Hong Kong was agreed in 1898 following the signature of the Convention of Peking. In December 1984, Prime Ministers Zhao Ziyang and (a rather reluctant) Margaret Thatcher had signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, under which the Chinese would resume sovereignty over the territory from July 1, 1997.

This Day in History: Queen Elizabeth II Visits China

During her visit, Elizabeth was given access to the newly excavated army of terracotta warriors in Xi’an, being allowed to enter the pit and walk among them, and visited the Great Wall in Beijing. The tour also took in Kunming, Guangzhou and Shanghai, where the Queen invited the upper echelons of the Chinese government to a banquet on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

At an earlier meeting with Deng Xiaoping, Elizabeth had not batted an eyelid when the aging Communist leader had spat into a spittoon that was placed by his seat. Her husband Prince Philip did not show such tact, letting out a guffaw.

This Day in History: Queen Elizabeth II Visits China

It was one of a number of characteristically embarrassing gaffes from the Prince; he also said that he found Beijing “ghastly” and remarked to a British student that, “If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.” All of which inspired British tabloid The Sun to dub him “The Great Wally of China.”

Watch a short video of the visit below (VPN on):

For more This Day in History stories, click here.

more news

This Day in History: First NBA Team Plays in China

On August 24, 1979, the Washington Bullets became the first professional US sports team invited to China.

This Week in History: US Passes Chinese Exclusion Act

The act effectively ended Chinese immigration to the US for 60 years.

This Day in History: Nixon Signs Shanghai Communique

On February 27, 1972, President Richard Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai signed the Shanghai Communique, a document that has remained the basis for Sino-American relations ever since.

This Day In History: Mao Coins Communist Slogan Serve the People

'Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather...'

#TBT: A History of Chinese Video Games

From clones to creativity.

This Day In History: Small Sword Society take Shanghai

Never underestimate an emaciated, opium smoking Cantonese ex-sugar broker...

This Day In History: Death of the Dogmeat General

The day warlord Zhang Zongchang found out that it's a dog eat dog world.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.