It must have been a bitter-sweet moment for Xi Jinping, the head of the world's biggest Communist Party, to be riding in a gilded carriage seated next to Queen Elizabeth II, the world's second longest reigning monarch, on their way to Buckingham Palace. After all, in the 1950s, when Xi was a mere child and Elizabeth was already queen, Chairman Mao Zedong set for China the seemingly impossible goal of catching up with the United Kingdom in 15 years. Fifty-seven years later, riding in the royal coach drawn by six white horses, Xi had the satisfaction of knowing that his country had long surpassed the U.K. and that the British were now supplicants seeking Chinese investment.

History, obviously, has not been forgotten by China. The BBC reported that the People's Daily declared in a front-page editorial: "The national humiliation that China suffered in modern times began with the rumble of cannon from British warships."

Xi's four-day U.K. romp was nothing short of triumphant. While last month the Americans honored him with a 21-gun salute at the White House, the British outdid this with a 103-gun royal salute, albeit at two venues.