Should we be afraid of China?

/ December 4, 2016/ Back in the Real World, Blog

Hands up who was taught about the sacking of the Summer Palace at school… It’s OK, I can wait… Anyone? No? Nor was I. This may seem like an odd question, but please bear with me.

I wanted to write this piece to illustrate to people who may be wondering just why it is that I remain unafraid of the rise of China, and feel that the mainstream Western media’s portrayal of China as a behemoth is rather a dangerous position to take. Obviously I don’t mean it’s dangerous because the Chinese are dangerous; what I mean is that the more we wilfully misunderstand the Chinese as a nation and as a people, the worse the situation will become, and the wider the gap between us will end up being. Our British politicians are not doing a great job at diplomacy when it comes to meeting the Chinese. The whole Hinkley-C issue is the perfect illustration of how easy it is to fuck things up if you don’t know what you’re doing. I understand perfectly well that diplomats are trained in what to say and how to behave, but this is why it is even more of a mystery to me how, at least when it comes to the Chinese, they still manage to get it so wrong, so often. Read More

Children’s Art Project

/ September 22, 2016/ Background, Blog

A few weeks ago, I approached the New Solar Robotics First Great Adventure of Discovery Primary School to ask if their pupils would be interested in helping me to advertise my shop. I spoke to their headmistress, Ling Xiaojie, who kindly allowed me to talk to the children. Some of the children who go to the school are familiar to me, as their parents frequently come to my shop. As I had expected, those children were keen to become involved, but to my delight the others were just as enthusiastic! Each time I asked a question, several hands were raised and I was bombarded with answers. Together we had a wonderful discussion. Afterwards I asked the children to draw some pictures – but when Ling Xiaojie asked me to clarify what kind of pictures I was looking for, I Read More

The Real-Life Future of China, Through the Eyes of its Children

/ August 22, 2016/ Back in the Real World, Blog, Historical

In 1997, a lady called Xinran came to the UK from China. Having hosted a radio show called Words on the Night Breeze for several years, she had accumulated so many stories of Chinese women that her heart was full to bursting. She had to write them down, or she could no longer function properly and continue to help them. But she knew she couldn’t write that book while she was still living in China, and so she moved to London. At first, she worked as a cleaner, with very little English. But in time, she completed the book, called The Good Women of China; she met Jung Chang’s agent Toby Eady; and the book was subsequently translated and published. (Xinran also married Toby.) Reading that book changed my life and in 2006, I met Xinran (who had agreed Read More