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June 19, 2014 AT 11:56 AM
China’s leaders have for decades been known more for seriousness and secrets than warmth and wit. But this week in London, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang launched a charm offensive complete with smiles, jokes about tea and a sit-down visit with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Li, who was appointed by China’s president to deal with the day-to-day running of the country, was jovial in his first speech to the British press, thanking them for bringing sunshine and good weather. Li's visit comes as China is trying to embrace its role as a world power – both soft and hard.