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Published: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 8:08:00 AM
Updated: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 8:10:02 AM

Cameron answers China's questions

BEIJING: British Prime Minister David Cameron received an unusual request from the Chinese Netizens – to help speed up the release of the new season of Sherlock, a popular British television series.

On his verified Weibo account, which was registered ahead of his visit from Dec 2 to 4, Cameron welcomed questions from the public.

“Thanks for following me. I am happy to be visiting China again as British Prime Minister. I really want to understand your thoughts, so leave me questions and I will answer them before the end of my trip,” he said.

The top response that has garnered 5,720 likes was related to the drama series on the fictional detective.

“Can you please get detective Sherlock to hurry up? It has three series but we have been waiting for two years,” a microblogging site user asked. The other popular comments were equally amusing.

A Weibo user who is clearly a Harry Potter fan was eager to know if Cameron’s office is adorned with a portrait that speaks to him.

“Is it true that the wizards keep in touch with the Prime Minister? If you can’t answer this directly because you are bound by a spell, you can give us a hint.”

The question was referring to the hugely successful novels by J.K. Rowling, in which the British Prime Minister’s office is said to have a portrait for the Ministry of Magic from the wizarding world to communicate with the Prime Minister whenever necessary.

Larry the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office also received attention with a user named Napu Fado asking about its wellbeing.

Amid other flippant questions – the sexual orientation of British men, prompted by Olympic diver Tom Daley’s announcement that he is gay, for instance – came one that might be awkward for the Conservative Party leader.

It touched on the Chinese artefacts ransacked and stolen from historic sites, which is an emotive subject in China.

The question was: “The museum has 23,000 pieces of artefacts that belonged to China and most of them were looted by the British troops in the Eight-Nation Alliance. When does United Kingdom plan to return the looted treasures to China?”

Cameron’s Weibo account has attracted more than 390,000 followers, nine days after the account was set up.

Close to 21,000 comments were left on the post asking questions.

In response, Cameron released a video of him tackling some of the questions on Saturday night.

However, to the Sherlock fans’ dismay, he said he has no control over the television series.

“Sadly, I can’t tell them what to do. It’s an independent company.

“Of course people can go back to read the original Conan Doyle stories, which are wonderful, but I will do everything I can to say that people in China want more Sherlock Holmes and more of the modern version,” he said in the video.

Cameron also revealed that he and his wife Samantha take turns to cook and he made oxtail stew before leaving for his official visit to China.

And his favourite band at the moment is Mumford and Sons.

Cameron also took the chance to explain that his visit to China aimed at fostering good and strong relationships.

While Cameron did not touch on the subject on the artefacts, Daily Mail quoted a British Museum spokesman clarifying that the issue is a “serious misunderstanding”.

The unnamed spokesman said most of the 23,000 objects in the museum’s Chinese collection were peacefully traded or collected, and many of which were made for export.

Meanwhile, an English newspaper in China, Global Times, ran a strong-worded editorial against Cameron’s visit.

Global Times remarked that his visit this time “can hardly be the end of the conflict between China and the UK”.

It dismissed UK as “just an old European country apt for travel and study” and it is “not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese”.

Nonetheless, Cameron was unfazed by the criticism and saw his trade mission as a success, according to Bloomberg.


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