When Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped down from the plane that carried him from Bali to Bangkok for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, he was greeted by 2014 coup leader and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and while Xi was mounting his aircraft back home, he was also sent off by Prayut.
In between, Xi had a busy schedule. He had a plenty of facetime with Prayut, with the prime minister on several occasions visibly bowing to the president. The pair had a bilateral meeting, where Xi hailed ties between China and Thailand as being “as close as one family.”
Later, at a banquet hosted in their honor, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were serenaded by Chinese music liked by Peng, while the Thai hosts presented her with a birthday cake. For a pair whose private life is almost unknown, this was a rare personal moment in the public eye.
It was red carpet treatment, befitting the most important guest at APEC. Xi was in command of the show. Yes, some other leaders were also lavished with attention. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guest appearance at APEC was particularly important to Prayut, for whom the restoration of ties with Saudi Arabia represents a key foreign policy achievement.