Theresa May today insisted she was ‘honoured’ to have been nicknamed ‘Auntie May’ in China.
The Prime Minister appeared slightly taken aback when she was informed about the fond tag she had been awarded.
But she said she wanted to thank the Chinese public for the warm welcome they had extended to her and husband Philip during their visit.
Mrs May’s nickname is something usually reserved for close allies in China, while Mr May has been described on social media as a ‘very handsome man’.
Theresa May and husband Philip posed for a picture inside the Forbidden City in Beijing today. The PM seemed slightly taken aback to be told the Chinese were calling her ‘Auntie May’
Theresa May met President Xi Jinping in Beijing today on the second leg of her visit to China
The topic came up in an interview with television network CCTV, with the presenter telling the PM: ‘A lot of Chinese people would affectionately call you, in Chinese, Auntie May.
‘That’s really a kind of a call for Chinese – you’re one of the members of the family. Do you like that?’
Mrs May replied: ‘Oh, thank you. Thank you very much indeed. I’m honoured by that. Thank you.’
The PM”s visit has drawn a fair amount of media attention in China.
Popular news website The Paper described Mr May as ‘very low-key, stays away from the media and the public eye’.
Users of Weibo – the Chinese version of Twitter – said he was ‘a very handsome gentleman’ and said their marriage is ‘really beautiful’.
There was also something of a frenzy about a photograph of the UK business delegation, where one member appeared to be holding baby formula.
It turned out to be Ross McMahon, CEO of Cumbria-based Kendal Nutricare, which specialises in formulas, including infant and adult.
Last week they signed a blockbuster five-year contract worth £85million with a Shanghai company. They expect to create 25 extra jobs through the deal.
Chinese social media users have gone crazy for ‘Auntie May’ – and acted with bewilderment after one of the business delegation was pictured holding baby formula