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The Rise of East Asia: Threat or Opportunity

2006: The Rise of East Asia: Threat or Opportunity
By Lord Chris Patten of Barnes

Chuan Lyu Lectures
Department of East Asian Studies
University of Cambridge
5pm, Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Lecture Room LG 19, Faculty of Law
Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge

Subject: The Rise of East Asia: Threat or Opportunity

By: Lord Patten of Barnes
Former Governor of Hong Kong and
Chancellor of the University of Oxford

My first view of mainland China came in September 1979. I was a young MP and was visiting Hong Kong as part of a Parliamentary delegation to the colony. We were taken up during the course of our visit to the border to the police post at Lo Wu and looked across from the machine gun post over the barbwire at the sleepy fishing village of Shenzhen.

We looked at a view which exemplified, as it were, the willow cap of China of the millennium, slow sailing barges moving down the river, peasants in duck ponds, the cultivation of the most tranquil rural life. You now go to the border and look at the Shenzhen and you see the most extraordinary example of wild frontier Capitalism. What has been called "Adam Smith out of Hieronymus Bosch." It's the sort pell-mell Capitalism which leads to what was called in Scotland in 2004, the "Great Drain Robbery." You may recall that year, from Glasgow to Chicago, manhole covers disappeared by the hundreds and by thousands. They lost, in a month in Chicago, 150. They went, of course, to fuel China's need for metals.

My first visit to Taiwan came after I stood down as governor of Hong Kong or to be more accurate, after history stood me down as governor of Hong Kong. I went there in 1998 to make a documentary about a book that I had written and arrived in Taipei to be engulfed by, what I guess you could call, the signs of freedom, cameras and journalists.

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