China’s Wang Yi wins praise for removing necktie

China’s Wang Yi wins praise for removing necktie

Seasoned diplomat removes tie after seeing his Singaporean counterpart without one ahead of a meeting last week

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – Diplomacy is more than the exchange of words. It is also about gestures. And good gestures win good friends.

Last week when China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi reached Singapore on the first leg of his three-nation trip to Southeast Asia, his discreet gesture won him tens of thousands of fans online.

As his car reached Botanic Gardens on Thursday for dinner with his Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan was standing to welcome Wang.

Just after alighting the car, videos shared online show, Balakrishnan extends his arm for a handshake.

After a brief handshake and hug, Wang pulls out his necktie. Balakrishnan wore none.

Wang, 69, discreetly handed over his tie to his subordinate who noticed the gesture by China’s top diplomat.

Sensing a change in costume protocol, Wang’s deputy, Sun Weidong, also briskly removed his own necktie.

The photos from the welcoming event and later from the dinner meeting shared on the official social media pages of Balakrishnan, show the Chinese foreign minister with and without a tie.

Balakrishnan called Wang his “good friend.”

“We had a good dinner at the Botanic Gardens and had a wide-ranging conversation on a variety of strategic issues. We discussed our mutual interest in furthering tourism and business flows, and air connectivity between China and Singapore,” Balakrishnan wrote on his Facebook page.

“Wang and his team’s reaction only demonstrates their humility and true statesmanship,” the daily South China Morning Post reported, quoting a social media user. “Can’t imagine the US doing this,” the user added.

Wang was also referred to as a “refined gentleman.”

The Chinese top diplomat and Balakrishnan also exchanged views on regional and international developments, including enhancing cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China.

“Singapore and China share close relations across all levels … We will continue to explore ways to enhance our cooperation, including in areas such as connectivity, the digital economy, and sustainable development,” Balakrishnan added.

A Chinese readout of the meeting said: “The two sides also had an exchange of views on a wide range of regional and international issues. They will strengthen communication and coordination, jointly promote the positive achievements of the leaders' meetings on East Asia cooperation, and jointly safeguard regional peace, stability, development, and prosperity.”

Tan Haojun, a former city-level official from China’s Jiangsu province, wrote on China’s Weibo: “It is not difficult to see from Wang’s improvisation that he is a witty, seasoned diplomat. With his clever (reaction), what could have been an awkward scene became very harmonious.”

Following his trip to Singapore, Wang and his team also visited Malaysia and Cambodia.

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