China had been happy minding its own business for much of the last century, rebuilding from utter devastation. While certain challenges had asked for international cooperation, China so far had sought to avoid entanglement, for better or worse and had tried to keep a low profile, given its limited capabilities to project power beyond its borders. But after a century of reconstruction, once again it seemed that the Chinese way of living had been challenged, by international developments.
When facing these problems, it seemed only natural for Liu Yanmin, Premier of the Republic of China, to address the country closest to the centre of these new issues, the Athenian Federation.
We congratulate the Athenian Federation to its swift progress in Germany and express our sorrow over the tragedy and loss of human life in Europe. We can only hope that such brutal acts of slaughter will not repeat themselves as history has shown the immense suffering such would cause. China is only too aware of this.
I write you to ask for a meeting in order to deliberate on the latest developments in Europe, as their importance will likely go beyond continental boundaries. It seems very much necessary that with these problems, some old, some new, it would be better to find common and mutually beneficial solutions that can ensure continued stability and prosperity among the nations.
For this reason, we are willing to host a meeting in Nanjing or meet you in a venue of your choosing in the Athenian Federation, whichever can be accommodated sooner, as we would hope to address these concerns at the soonest possible point of time.
With the surrender of the Germany Navy and the decimation of the German Air Force, any fears of the German war expanding beyond German territory had all but disappeared completely. With that previous policies on keeping senior government officials in the country and in secured locations was also relaxed. There was after all no way a German weapon was now going to reach either a palace or a government plane. With all of this in mind the Chinese invitation provided an excellent opportunity. The first international visit of the Empress being outside of Europe would send a message that the intentions of Athens were global and the invitation itself showed that Athens was recognized as a major player on the world stage. Both of these things served the political interests of Athanasia.
At Imperial request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would forward the message to the Imperial Palace. Once there the Grand Secretary of the Crown would send a reply to the Chinese Premier informing them that the Athenian Federation would gladly accept their invitation and that the Empress of the Athenian Federation would travel to Nanjing on Hellenic Air Force One, a highly modified Airbus A380 that served as the Empress’ official plane for long range international travel. Along with the Empress would come a dozen High Guard and aides from the Ministries of General Affairs, Defence and Foreign Affairs to provide the Empress with any information on topics she might not know by heart completely.
As the Athenians responded positively to the invitation, the Chinese government was quick to make the necessary preparations to welcome the foreign guests. The Hellenic Air Force One was guided to Nanjing Luhe Airport, a military airport that was deemed safe and away from the bustle of civilian traffic surrounding the national capital. After a landing without any incident, the Empress, her guard and staff were greeted by a small honour guard of the RoC Army, still armed with some of the better maintained Type 24 rifles that were truely antiques, but were more aesthetically befitting the purpose of such duties than more modern rifles. At the end of the lined up guard, a man and a woman seemed to be awating the guests, these two however clothed in civilian dress.
Once the noise of the engines was low enough to not make any attempt at vocal communication futile, the man started speaking in quite decent English. “Greetings, your Highness. May I welcome you to China. I’m Minister of Foreign Affairs Qi Liangfang. This is Premier Liu Yanmin. We are glad you accepted our invitation.”
On the sidelines, the Hellenic staffers were informed by Chinese government aides about their planned accommodations, venues of interest in Nanjing and its surroundings, authorities that should be contaced in case of any issues arising, as well as a general outline on security measures and making sure the Athenians informed the Chinese security in case there were any planned changes to schedules. Much of this they had already sent the Athenians prior to the landing, but it was better to reiterate and be safe rather than sorry. The last thing China needed was to be dragged into foreign affairs due to any mishaps or worse, terrorism.
Athanasia had been to China only once before, when she was still a very young child. As such on the flight there she made sure to try to see as much as possible of the beautiful and ancient land below her. After the plane landed Athanasia would be the first to step off, followed by her guards and staff. At her request the guards kept their distance to express confidence in their host’s precautions and trust in their intentions.
As Athanasia approached the Premier and Minister in front of her she nodded in respect. Replying in fluent Mandarin (something she had picked up in her university days) “Thank you for your most gracious welcome Minister, Premier. It is truly a honour and pleasure to meet with you here and now”
Noting the Mandarin, the Premier nodded approvingly and continued in the language. “If your Highness doesn’t mind, we can keep discussing in this language, as it seems your language skills are humbling my own.”
Several Chang’an Qilins had been prepared for the transport of the Empress and her staff from the airport to the meeting venue. As the convoy made its way to the Presidential Palace, the Premier looked over the skyline of the capital of the republic. While not as large as the larger commercial and industrial hubs such as Shanghai, Guangzhou-Shenzen, Beijing and Chongqing, Nanjing still was the centre of governance and attracted the affluent, as well as students who wanted to enroll in its prestigious universities.
The Presidential Palace complex was quite sizeable, as it included multiple buildings, though most were quite humble considering the size of the country. Having been constructed during times when China was facing much greater hardships, the government had often discussed but ultimatively dismissed the notion of a new presidential palace, as the ideas of remembering the historic struggle and shunning unnecessary extravagance were to make up for any lack of luster. Even so, the palace was by no means small or shabby and Athanasia would be guided to a tea house in the gardens, with a table prepared in the shade, overlooking a quiet pond.
“May we offer some tea while we talk. There are quite a few things to discuss.”, Premier Liu asked.