Aug 28

Tony Blair’s New Op Ed on China in the Wall Street Journal

Written by Allen on Thursday, August 28th, 2008 at 7:58 am
Filed under:Analysis, News, politics | Tags:, , , ,
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I thought I’d bring to people’s attention to a recent Op Ed from Tony Blair in the Wall Street Journal on the Rise of China and the Olympics. I think the piece is interesting as a genuine attempt by a Western Leader (or at least a former Western leader) to understand – in good faith – the Rise of China and the Olympics.

About the Chinese people, Blair observed:

These people, men and women, were smart, sharp, forthright, unafraid to express their views about China and its future. Above all, there was a confidence, an optimism, a lack of the cynical, and a presence of the spirit of get up and go, that reminded me greatly of the U.S. at its best and any country on its way forward.

On his observation of modern China, Blair offered:

During my 10 years as British leader, I could see the accelerating pace of China’s continued emergence as a major power. I gave speeches about China, I understood it analytically. But I did not feel it emotionally and therefore did not fully understand it politically.

On the challenges facing China, Blair had this to offer:

The Chinese leadership is understandably preoccupied with internal development. Beijing and Shanghai no more paint for you the complete picture of China than New York and Washington do of the U.S. Understanding the internal challenge is fundamental to understanding China, its politics and its psyche. We in Europe have roughly 5% of our population employed in agriculture. China has almost 60%. Over the coming years it will seek to move hundreds of millions of its people from a rural to an urban economy.

On the need for Political Stability, Tony explained (bravely I thought):

For China, this economic and social transformation has to come with political stability. It is in all our interests that it does. The policy of One China is not a piece of indulgent nationalism. It is an existential issue if China is to hold together in a peaceful and stable manner as it modernizes. This is why Tibet is not simply a religious issue for China but a profoundly political one — Tibet being roughly a quarter of China’s land mass albeit with a small population.

So we should continue to engage in a dialogue over the issues that rightly concern people, but we should conduct it with at least some sensitivity to the way China sees them.

On the coming changes in geopolitics, Blair put forth:

This means that the West needs a strong partnership with China, one that goes deep, not just economically but politically and culturally. The truth is that nothing in the 21st century will work well without China’s full engagement. The challenges we face today are global. China is now a major global player. So whether the issue is climate change, Africa, world trade or the myriad of security questions, we need China to be constructive; we need it to be using its power in partnership with us. None of this means we shouldn’t continue to raise the issues of human rights, religious freedoms and democratic reforms as European and American leaders have done in recent weeks.

It is possible to hyperbolize about the rise of China. For example, Europe’s economies are still major and combined outreach those of China and India combined. But, as the Olympics and its medal tables show, it is not going to stay that way. This is a historic moment of change. Fast forward 10 years and everyone will know it.

For centuries, the power has resided in the West, with various European powers including the British Empire and then, in the 20th century, the U.S. Now we will have to come to terms with a world in which the power is shared with the Far East. I wonder if we quite understand what that means, we whose culture (not just our politics and economies) has dominated for so long. It will be a rather strange, possibly unnerving experience. Personally, I think it will be incredibly enriching. New experiences; new ways of thinking liberate creative energy. But in any event, it will be a fact we have to come to terms with. For the next U.S. president, this will be or should be at the very top of the agenda, and as a result of the strength of the Sino-U.S. relationship under President Bush, there is a sound platform to build upon.

As a conclusion, Blair offered:

My thoughts after the Beijing Games are that we shouldn’t try to emulate the wonder of the opening ceremony. It was the spectacular to end all spectaculars and probably can never be bettered. We should instead do something different, drawing maybe on the ideals and spirit of the Olympic movement. We should do it our way, like they did it theirs. And we should learn from and respect each other. That is the way of the 21st century.

While Blair on the whole still exudes of western centrism (he for example still assumes the western conception of human rights and religious freedom to be fundamental rights when in reality Chinese are not so ideological and tend to see conception of human rights and religious freedom more in terms of social equity and social stability…), I nevertheless think it’s overall a good piece – and perhaps representative of a new Western dialog on China …. post the Olympics.

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59 Responses to “Tony Blair’s New Op Ed on China in the Wall Street Journal”

  1. Denis Says:

    During Blair’s term of office in the UK, there were the Dover 58 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/796791.stm) and the Morecambe Bay disasters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Morecambe_Bay_cockling_disaster). Both Chinese and British governments chose to ignore these events. Whilst the Olympics took place, desperately poor Chinese continued to seek escape and the British response has been merely to step up immigration controls.

    Below the pontification, there is cynicism and complicity. Orwell could not have predicted it better.

  2. BlairSupporter Says:

    Denis’s thoughts are not shared by all of us in our country, the UK. Immigration controls have been lax, there is no point in denying it. Illegal immigrants have been used by unscrupulous employers and have (and still do) remained largely undetected.

    There are many reasons for the huge numbers of illegal immigrants, and its sad results on occasions, including EU directives and open borders, the Channel tunnel, back of lorry smuggling, and the fact that my country, Great Britain, has opened its arms far too widely and trustingly to all.

    Far from being Orwellian, we have been dangerously trusting and nowhere near scrupulous enough in guarding our borders – and not just during Blair’s time in office. It started decades ago.

    Blair is right on China. There is no point in sabre rattling where no-one is, yet, threatening us. China needs to be persuaded away from Russia’s arms at this time of uncertainty and the likelihood of a cold/hot war.

    Blair is the supreme diplomat and is determined to do his bit to keep China on board the western dream.

    Or would Denis rather that we let them drift off into a new Asia Alliance with Russia (and others) who seem to be moved by considerations NOT in alignment with ours?

    See my thoughts on Blair’s speech on China here.


  3. vadaga Says:

    I wonder if Kevin Rudd has written anything about the Olympics…

  4. Denis Says:

    Reference to Orwell is to “Animal Farm” where the revolution is betrayed by the pigs, who feast with the men at the end of the book. The pigs are the communists; the men are the capitalists.

    The point about the Morecambe Bay and Dover 58 disasters is that complicity has led to denial and all the elements of repeat disaster.

    I don’t understand what a new Asia alliance with Russia got to do with this.

  5. Chops Says:

    “Chinese officials ordered Boris Johnson to smarten up at the Olympic handover ceremony, he revealed today.

    The Mayor has faced criticism from Chinese commentators for leaving his jacket button undone at the event, an oversight which they say is disrespectful at a formal occasion.

    He hits back in an article today and says that officials had pointed at him to follow other VIPs and do up his jacket. But after checking there was no protocol, Mr Johnson decided against it…”


  6. pug_ster Says:

    There’s a difference Tony Blair working as a Prime Minister and as a diplomat. As a Prime Minister he has to get on the tough on China just as this is exactly what Gordon Brown is doing. I think many Chinese understand what Kevin Rudd and Bush are doing as they sounded tough on China, but in reality they are quite popular because of their economic policies toward China are mostly positive. As for Tony Blair working as a diplomat instead of being a Prime Minister, he no longer have to satisfy the people who elected him and work a more of a realistic agenda towards China.

    As for the election, I personally think McCain is a better candidate in terms of relations with China as he is probably more like Bush. Obama thinks China as a ‘competitor’ and making dumb speeches about banning toys from China.


    There are incidents here in the US where illegal immigrants got smuggled here also. It is sad, but I don’t think it is a political issue between the 2 countries.

  7. FOARP Says:

    @pug_ster – I fail to see how Gordon Brown is taking a ‘tough’ line towards China. The meeting with the Dalai Lama was billed as a meeting with him as a ‘religious leader’, not as a political one, and was only symbolic. On trade, human rights etc. – there has been no real sign of him being particularly confrontational.

  8. BlairSupporter Says:

    To Denis – I imagined you were referring to the usual things people complain about – “Big Brother ” or “Nineteen Eighty Four”.

    Writers predict a lot of things, but life is stranger than fiction, as we all know.

    And your conspiracy innuendo says something about your stance –

    “The point about the Morecambe Bay and Dover 58 disasters is that complicity has led to denial and all the elements of repeat disaster.”

    So, the British government was complicit in turning a blind eye to illegal immigrants, eh? Nothing to do with the fact that many British residents will not work hard for long hours and low wages? Nothing to do with the employers who often PAY for these illegals and then pay them peanuts? Or is it all the government’s fault?

    My reference to the Russia/Asia alliance was to try to make it clear that there is a big global picture of which we should all be aware. It seems the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) was being leant upon today by Russia who hoped for support from China over the Georgian issues. In the end China has been a little ambivalent but has NOT, it seems, come down on their side. Why? Because they want to remain friendly with the west.

    Blair understands all of this, as all western leaders should. Just wish I knew what Brown thinks. If he thinks at all!

    Softly, softly is the right way, imho.

    As for Boris Johnson at the Olympics handover — a disgrace and an ‘unmade bed’, I thought, as I wrote here:


    Pity ALL of our politicians didn’t take more lessons from the former PM. He never looked like this even though he famously prefers to wear casual clothes. Especially in front of millions (billions at the Olympics) we could always be sure he’d LOOK the part.

  9. Charles Liu Says:

    Don’t worry about London 2012 Mr. Blair – the Chinese are far too busy to hang giant “Free Northern Ireland” flag on the Big Ben, nor will they choose to “leverage Olympics” to “highlight” political issues.

    And let’s see what will happen to Tibet and Darfur after China’s “genocide Olympics”…

  10. BlairSupporter Says:

    To Charles Lui – the Chinese, nor anyone else, will need to concern themselves about that. After Mr Blair’s historical settlement in association with the country of Ireland, (the south -Eire) the Northern Irish are free to make their own decision about that. In other words, Blair the great democrat, has ensured it is up to the voters, as he did with Scottish & Welsh devolution.

  11. FOARP Says:

    @Blairsupporter – Yeah, just like he gave us that vote on the European treaty/constitution/membership in general.

  12. BlairSupporter Says:

    FOARP – if it was worthwhile debating with you I’d point out that Blair promised a vote if changes were fundamental to the EU constitution. It is not agreed that the changes ARE fundamental, and it is argued by this government, that it is not a constitutional issue. But yes, I do realise that this is a controversial area.

    The present government, Blairless, says it isn’t. It’s up to them now. Blair was ready to run with the referendum in 2004, until two other countries voted against, then all votes were off.

    Referendums, btw, are not the British way. We have only ever held 8, as I understand it, and apart from Scottish & Welsh devolution, only one was on a constitutional matter.

  13. Denis Says:

    “There are incidents here in the US where illegal immigrants got smuggled here also. It is sad, but I don’t think it is a political issue between the 2 countries.”

    Frozen in space and time one can make such judgements but the world moves on and disasters can aggregate – even Blair must know that. But even assuming no political issue, is there not a humanitarian issue? Can’t the latter (e.g. Darfur) become the former?

  14. FOARP Says:

    @Blairsupporter – Hey, I think the guy was clever enough, and the way that Labour have so totally lost direction since he went shows that he was more of a leader than he seemed at the time – the fact that the most Blair-like of the non-entities left in government, David Millib(l)and, is now being tipped for the top spot demonstrates this. However, his democratic credentials are nowhere nearly as solid as you made out above. Even the devolution referenda were somewhat dubious – the Welsh one was passed by a few tenths of a percent of the population, and with only 25% of the Welsh population even bothering to vote. The Northern Irish assembly has undergone long periods of suspension during which direct rule from London has been in force, and is likely to be re-imposed in future – the settlement has proved rather precarious.

  15. yo Says:

    Interesting words by Blair. Nice find Allen.

  16. BlairSupporter Says:

    OK, FOARP. I admit that I find so many anti-Blair people on the internet that I, as a supporter, tend to over-react at times. Apologies.

    I always thought Blair was a great leader, although I wasn’t even a Labour voter. I would be now, if he were still there. But they are such a mess with Brown in charge I just don’t know what they are any more, or who to vote for. It won’t be for my old party though. It was wrong about one important issue and they have now lost me forever.

    As for the vote in the referendums – well, the turnout was 50% in Wales, not 25%. But the winning margin was close, I agree. I was for both devolved governments at the time. Now, with the Scottish Nationalist Party & Alex Salmond in charge in my homeland (where I no longer live) I’m not so sure!

    But now Scotland and Wales would not go back to where they were before. Not even the Tories who were against devolution at the time.

    As for Northern Ireland – I am pretty much convinced that it is permanent, if likely to be a rocky road at times, especially when, as will happen eventually, Sinn Fein campaigns for separation.

    Time will tell.

  17. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Blair’s piece was excellent.
    But when you criticize him for “still exud(ing) … western centrism”, I hope the standard you expect is NOT for the West to lose its identity in submitting to a Chinese way of thinking. I think the West can and should do better in understanding the Chinese perspective, but that in no way means we should sacrifice the values that we hold dear.

  18. JL Says:

    No, I think you are the one who “exudes Western centrism”, by implying that human rights are something that only Westerners are concerned with. I have never once heard a Chinese person argue that torture and imprisonment without trial are good things. Are you going to be the first?
    Of course there will be differences between different understandings of what exactly a human right is, but then Europeans and Americans disagree among themselves on this question.

  19. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To JL:
    you bet your life-savers I’m western-centric. Happy to shout it from rooftops if required. My point is that, IMO, human rights and religious freedom are “fundamental rights” in the West, in contrast to what Allen essentially describes as social niceties in China, in the last paragraph of his post. And if that’s the way the West feels (i’m not saying it is, just if), there’s no need to subvert that in its dealings with China.

  20. S.K. Cheung Says:

    And if China one day shares that perspective, then so much the better.

  21. Nimrod Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    I think the West can and should do better in understanding the Chinese perspective, but that in no way means we should sacrifice the values that we hold dear.

    I don’t think anyone here has ever asked the West to sacrifice its own values. The issue is over messing with other people and shoving these values down other people’s throats in the name of “universality”.

    Now I agree to some extent that the world is getting smaller and codependent, that some form of common values is needed so we can all live together in peace. But it also means there is a good chance the West’s values may not all prevail as truly, accepted universal values. Why? Because we are all different people. It’s arrogant to believe otherwise.

    So is it hopeless then? No… You just need common sense and a little give and take, and appreciation for how other people live. To get universal and sincere acceptance on values, the kind that is good for the world, the West needs to stick to the most simple, small, basic, human values that we can all believe in, and remove all the political and ideological crap. That seems pretty intuitive and reasonable to me. Is that what the West is doing? No, and that’s the big problem — the biggest problem — in today’s world: the West tries to remake the world in its own image. It ain’t gonna work.

  22. Allen Says:


    I have never once heard a Chinese person argue that torture and imprisonment without trial are good things. Are you going to be the first?

    No – I am not going to argue for torture and imprisonment (which every gov’t is guilty of – not just that of the Chinese). But I really think there is a great difference in perspective on human rights between “East” and “West.”

    One point I want to make is that for the West, democracy and freedom of religion are per se rights. They are per se rights even if they lead to social instability (hence I will fight for my freedom). For Chinese, they are not per se rights. They can be elevated to the status of rights if they can promote social equity and social stability. Democracy is good if they can lead to a prosperous China – not irrespective of whether they can lead to a prosperous China. Freedom of religion is presumed (Chinese are no ideological), but if religion (ethnic politics or whatever else) is used as a tool used to destabilize the social order, then religion (and whatever other rights) may have to be regulated.

    Another point I want to make is the context of history. For the west, various rights have evolved as a response to past political suppression. Religion, esp. in the West, for example has been used as a pretext for wars, torture, murder, etc. Rights were invented to help buffer such forces. However China does not have as tortuous a history with religion as the West. Hence, to force China to treat religion as a supersensitive topic is to force China to live the history of the West – which is not fair.

    I remember we had a similar discussion in other threads here a few months ago about racism. In the history of the West, racism was used perfected as a political tool to suppress and dominate. I am not going to argue that in China race has never been used as a political tool, but I can safely argue race has not played as a critical role in the political identity of China as that of the West. Hence, when people in the west becomes hypersensitive about race and Chinese people do not, and when some less educated start showing prejudice and westerns jump on the bandwaggon accusing Chinese of being racist, I really don’t think that’s fair. We all have tendencies to jump (unjustifiably) to conclusions. But racism as a political wedge is something that is more Western than Eastern – and to impute political racism to China based on “normal” bigotry is just not fair.

    After all the rambling – the gist of what I’m saying is to try not to assume too much – or to judge others through the myopic lens of one’s own experiences (histories).

  23. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod:
    no one is messing, and no one is shoving. The West tells you this is what we think, and might even suggest you give it a try. If you fundamentally disagree, or are not interested, that is certainly your prerogative. If that’s the case, just ignore us on those points where you disagree. No need to complain about messing and shoving. But that seems to be what China does. And complaining alone is not persuasive. And it won’t stop people from asking, for that, in the West, is not a crime.

    There are, and may be more, universal values to which all people subscribe. However, even if a value is not “universally” held by all, does not change the fact that it may be “fundamental” for some. You can count human rights and freedom of religion among those. And if we have fundamental values that you don’t share, and nothing changes, then those values will certainly not become universal; nor will they become inconsequential, at least to us.

    To aim for some lowest common denominator may be a practical starting point, but doesn’t seem to me as much of an ultimate goal. BTW, what constitutes a small simple basic human value to you? Some of the aforementioned would be so defined by some of us. No question, the West does what’s best for the West, but without sounding too hokey, I think many feel that does incorporate the best interest for almost all. And that’s our prerogative.

  24. Charles Liu Says:

    BSer, didn’t the British load up Northern Ireland with Ulster Scots? Can China do the same thing, like, load up Hans in Tibet first? Or do what we Americans do – claim “manifest destiny”, and say it’s okay for us to take them Injum’s land?

    But I can assure you there will be no big TFS-style giant flag on the Big Ben, or will 2012 be the vehicle for any of Britian’s ingrained sovereignty transgressions.

    Same thing with 2010 Winter Olympics, nobody will care about the First People enough to hang a giant flag. Only them commie ch!nks deserve such vilification.

  25. Oli Says:

    Rather than N. Ireland I suggest people google up the story of the Chagos Islanders with regards to UK human rights record. As for corruption, I suggest the BAE Systems story in relation to Saudi Arabia. These are but the most prominent ones that we know of and God knows there are lots more where they came from.

  26. maotai Says:

    @SK Cheung
    “No question, the West does what’s best for the West, but without sounding too hokey, I think many feel that does incorporate the best interest for almost all. And that’s our prerogative.”

    Hey I can put up the example of Singapore for both the West and China to emulate! That should satisfy everyone as far as a baseline to start off with. And that IS in the best interest of all. LOL

  27. Daniel Says:

    Hi Allen,

    I think I understand what you are saying. The issue with both race and religion, even though they can be made to be understandable for all people, carries a different weight and memories in some societies than others. I wrote a research paper once, a while back, where the topic was to discuss race relations in the US in comparison with Brazil. In several significant ways, they are different, and I assume that it would be as such with China or other Asian countries. Not just with race-ethnicity, but also religion is percieved a bit differently as well. In some cases, it’s almost an inseperatable part of the culture and national identity…to some degree and up to debate.

    Although a lot of people are using the justified logic that the current generation shouldn’t bear the brunt of the past’s mistakes, it isn’t that simple. Had not the generations before us abused their words, relationships, actions towards others in such a matter which lead to elements of violence, I’m pretty certain that many people today would have conversations full of “non-politically correct” terms;the main difference due to history.

  28. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Whether they hail China or trash her, their opinions are irrelevant. The Western understanding of China’s rise is framed within the ethnocentric Western system of reference with political slogans completely vacuous to the Chinese ear. Within the Western system of reference, there are only two narratives of China’s rise. Some Western people believe China rises against the West, competing with the West in ideology, economic dominance, offering development models to developing countries, and grabbing natural resources. Another school of thought believes that China rises to embrace the West, to be assimilated and integrated in the “global community”. Western engagement with China is supposed to hasten this process of integration. Both views are unintelligent because both are ethnocentric. In reality, the third process is taking place, i.e., China rises to bypass the West and goes its own way, innovating in its politics and governance, culture and values etc. This “Asian road” has been pointed out by Mizuguchi Yuzo for a long time. Compared to Mizuguchi Tony Blair’s insights on China are like that of a primary school pupil. I leave you with the following quote from Mizuguchi’s 中国思想与中国思想史研究的视角. (If I had time I would have translated it into English)



    From 中国思想与中国思想史研究的视角 沟口雄三 李云雷 译

    The entire article in Chinese is here

    See also at

  29. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Maotai:
    That’s a great example. I don’t mind a society that balances rights with responsibilities.

  30. Michelle Says:

    Maotai, SKC:
    Meh. One of the reasons Singapore works well is because it’s so small and requires the ‘assistance’ of Malaysia and Indonesia for natural resources and surrounding areas for labour resources. To make a China into a Singapore would require a much larger planet.

  31. Wukailong Says:

    @bxbq: I think your viewpoint is summed up quite well by what Spock once said about a UFO that hovered above planet Earth: “It’s antropocentric to believe they necessarily want to communicate with humans.” In the same vein, China’s rise is of course not directly related to the West, whether it’s embracing or containing.

    On the other hand, a lot of Chinese nationalist discourse (which in turn is shaped by Western nationalism and, well, communism which originally came from the West) is shaped by having the West, notably the US, as an adversary or comparison.

    @human rights discussion: Just remember Chinese opinion has changed a lot here. In the 80s HR was a “bourgeois slogan”, not to be taken seriously. Then it became a “pretext for hostile Western forces”, and now it’s either something that “China takes seriously and have done a lot to protect”, there are “Western and Chinese notions of human rights”, or “human rights that violate the Eastern notion of social stability and harmony won’t be accepted in China.”

    My guess is that opinions will get more “Western” as time goes by, not because people become Westernized, but because the political system opens up more. Of course, if someone can show that a certain subset of human rights are not accepted in any SE Asian country/region (Mongolia, China, Japan, South Korea, Hongkong etc), then I’ll accept the cultural argument.

  32. Wukailong Says:

    I think I should add that the concept of human rights is not well understood by the Chinese public, and if people in the West wants to get more understanding for the viewpoint, they should be less abstract and discuss principles directly, like opposition to torture etc.

  33. Nimrod Says:

    Wukailong wrote:

    “My guess is that opinions will get more “Western” as time goes by, not because people become Westernized, but because the political system opens up more.”

    These opinions getting more “Western” is my guess, too, but in contrast I do believe it’s because people become Westernized. First of all, people are getting Westernized — that’s been the story now for a hundred years in China. I’d say that has an effect on people’s opinions. In fact, I think that is what drives the political system to open up.

  34. Denis Says:

    Lies, Damn Lies, and Chinese “Lies That Bind”


    This gives a good overview of the issue of conceptions of the west and westernisation of the Chinese

    @Wukailong – it indicates why human rights are viewed differently
    @Nimrod – it suggests that getting “westernised” might not be the right term (not denying that *something* is happening)
    @bianxiangbianqiao – it highlights the naivety of views like Blair’s, which ignore the fact that for every analysis we have of “them”, they will build an equivalent one of “us”

  35. BlairSupporter Says:

    To Charles Liu:

    ‘BSer, didn’t the British load up Northern Ireland with Ulster Scots? ‘

    Well, Glasgow in the west of Scotland is full of roman catholic southern Irish, probably even MY ancestry. Works both ways. As long as they are civilised and share the same values, it doesn’t matter to me.

    At the Olympics I was very struck by the western style of pop music at the closing ceremony. It was better than ours in fact. Of course that’s not difficult.

    The Chinese are coming OUR way, with or without their leaders.

    There will be bound to be some moaners and groaners on about something in 2012 in London. (Don’t you know we have a ‘stalinist government’ who are stealing all our civil rights!!?)

    They’ll all be silly Brits on their usual sanctimonious outings. And the police will stand by and smile benignly as they have been doing for years to others who threaten our values and ways of life. But that’s another story …


    … or two:


  36. Chops Says:

    “The Chinese are coming OUR way, with or without their leaders.”

    Yup, Ping Pong’s coming home to UK, but China owns Ping Pong.

  37. BlairSupporter Says:

    Yes, CHOPS, great! But didn’t we invent so many things and then let others develop and OWN them – generosity itself!?

    Way to go with business sense.

    A couple of Scottish inventions/discoveries below – who said I’m biased?

    The steam engine, the flush toilet, the bicycle, tarmacadam roads, the telephone, television, the motion picture, penicillin, electromagnetics, radar, insulin and calculus. More here:


    And just to rub it in – we have a tea- towel with THIS on it:


    An Englishmen enjoys his breakfast of toast and MARMALADE invented by Mrs. Keiller of Dundee, Scotland – reaches for his RAINCOAT patented by Charles MacIntosh of Glasgow, Scotland, to dash off to the station on his BICYCLE invented by Kirpatrick MacMillan, blacksmith of Dumfries, Scotland, whose TYRES invented by John Boyd Dunlop of Dreghorn, Scotland run on a TARMAC ROAD invented by John MacAdam of Ayr, Scotland.

    The Journey by train whose STEAM ENGINE was invented by James Watt of Greenock, Scotland takes him to work at the BANK OF ENGLAND founded by William Patterson of Dumfries, Scotland. While opening his mail whose ADHESIVE STAMPS were invented by James Chalmers of Dundee, Scotland, he puffs on a CIGARETTE first manufactured by Robert Gloag of Perth, Scotland.

    He later rings his wife on the TELEPHONE invented by Alexander Graham Bell of Edinburgh, Scotland. She tells him that dinner will be his favourite, ROAST BEEF, Aberdeen Angus, raised in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

    He arrives home to find his daughter watching TELEVISION invented by John Logie Baird of Helensburgh, Scotland, a programme on the US NAVY founded by John Paul Jones of Kirkbean, Scotland and his son reading TREASURE ISLAND written by Robert Louis Stevenson of Endinburgh, Scotland and on lifting THE BIBLE he finds that the first named mentioned is a Scot – King James VI who authorized its translation.

    The Englishman is unable to turn from the ingenuity of the Scots. He could turn to WHISKY but Scotland supplies the best or to end it all he could put his head in a gas oven – COAL GAS discovered by William Murdoch of Ayr, Scotland. He could shoot himself with his BREACH LOADING RIFLE invented by Captain Pat Ferguson of Pitfours, Scotland. If unsuccessful he could be injected with PENICILLIN discovered by Alexander Fleming of Darvel, Scotland or given an ANAESTHETIC invented by Sir James Young Simpson of Bathgate, Scotland.

    His last hope is a transfusion of Scots blood so he could ask:



  38. bianxiangbianqiao Says:


    “On the other hand, a lot of Chinese nationalist discourse (which in turn is shaped by Western nationalism and, well, communism which originally came from the West) is shaped by having the West, notably the US, as an adversary or comparison.”

    Nationalism did not come to China from the West. The distinction between the Chinese (hua) and outsiders (yi) goes back to the beginning of the Chinese history. The Chinese took the initiative to build the great wall while many Western cultures did not even have city walls.

    Communism indeed came from the West but it has had little concrete impact on the Chinese society, although it did have nominal impact. The correct framework for examining the PRC history is through the lens of Confucius and Legalist ideologies (儒家和法家), instead of the Western ideologies of capitalism versus communism. We need to go beyond the discourse of“street nationalism” and look at “intellectual nationalism” to better understand the relation between China’s rise and the Western-dominated political order of the world. I suggest reading Gan Yang (甘阳) as a starter (although he is sort of an extremist), a scholar at the University of Hong Kong. In his opinion, the title People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国) actually refers to “Confucius Socialist Republic of China (儒家社会主义共和国). The following review article offers a gist of the Neo-Nationalism among Chinese intellectuals, which is based on traditional Chinese thinking (国学, or 国粹) and have some useful references.


  39. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    “the concept of human rights is not well understood by the Chinese public”

    The concept of Human Rights is well accepted among the Chinese not because it was a gift from the West. The concept was the heart of Confucius thinking, i.e., caring benevolence and also the teaching of Mo-Zi (墨子), i.e., universal love (兼爱)and Meng-Zi, i.e., empathy (what was the Chinese word for that?). The Chinese have no need for Western instructions in this department.

  40. Chops Says:


    You missed out Tim Berners-Lee, the Brit who invented and then gave away the Internet 🙂

  41. Chops Says:

    Oops, it should be “invented … the Internet World Wide Web”

  42. BlairSupporter Says:

    You’re right Chops! How could I forget him?

    But he’s English. I only did the Scots – so far!

  43. House Says:

    “No question, the West does what’s best for the West, but without sounding too hokey, I think many feel that does incorporate the best interest for almost all. And that’s our prerogative.”

    It is too bad the Western governments always uses these principles as a guise to further their own geopolitical interests. I guess building missile shields at people’s doorsteps, military bases across the world, and gunboat diplomacy are also western prerogatives then?

  44. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Nope. Just US prerogatives. And one shouldn’t confuse the US with the entirety of western culture and civilization.

  45. Nimrod Says:

    The fact that “human rights” can be above else (even stability and prosperity) in Western culture is ideological and not worthy of replication. It is based on the Creation story and the fact that the rights are “God-given”, which is to say, God created each individual human, so each human is only responsible to his maker first. Sure, sure, it’s been given a secular and philosophical coat of paint, but if it weren’t for the “God-given” part, other philosophies and worldviews could be held as equally valid starting points.

    There is no point in arguing about human rights, given the primacy of the above ideology in Western culture. How can you argue with an ideology?

  46. Karma Says:


    No – one cannot prove ideology. Ideology is a set of tenants against which all facts are viewed. It is not fact-based – nor rationality based. One can even identify ideology as a set of ideals which can never be disproven and to which one may become emotionally attached.

  47. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Nimrod:
    wo wo wo, wait a second. Human rights don’t have to be “above” all else; but neither does it have to be sacrificed for the sake of stuff like “stability” and “prosperity”. Western countries, for the most part, seem to enjoy all 3, among other things. Now, we know China doesn’t yet enjoy an abundance of the third, and CCP can’t seem to get out of bed without ranting about the second, which is partly why the first goes by the wayside. But that doesn’t need to be so, nor does it always need to be so.

    And your link to “ideology” is way off base. I thank God for Darwin (pun intended), and my good book is the Da Vinci Code. And the only “Word” I listen to is Colbert’s. But look at me, I still believe in human rights. If you think human rights is ideology, you don’t have much respect for humans.

  48. demin Says:

    S.K. Cheung ” If you think human rights is ideology, you don’t have much respect for humans.”

    Now this is perfect. Ideology is not about its content, it’s about craziness, to the effect that it thinks it can judge who is more human who is less human. Thus, the one who “doesn’t have much respect for humans” doesn’t deserve much “human respect” himself. It’s all the same with “the one who does not believe in God should be eliminated in God’s name.” Now certainly the term has certainly been changed, the mindset largely remains the same. But I still have to tell you, my friend, I completely “respect” human rights.

  49. raffiaflower Says:

    BlairSupporter, you forgot Robert Burns! We can’t say goodbye to all this and hello to all that without the bittersweetness of Auld Lang Syne.
    Sk Cheung believes that “Human rights and religious freedom are “fundamental rights” in the West”.
    Perhaps you can enlighten us on:
    1. Why the British introduced the Internal Security Act in Malaysia and Singapore in the 50s which allows or arbitrary arrest and jail without trial?
    2. Why did the British again abuse the “human rights” of thousands of orphans by sending them to Australia, where they were abused and left stateless?

  50. BlairSupporter Says:

    Aye, raffiaflower. And what did Burns say apart from “Auld Lang Syne” and “My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose” etc –

    “Oh would some power the giftie gi’ us, to see ourselves as other see us.”

    [Translated from Scottish English]

    Words ARE important, as evidenced today by Gordon Brown’s chancellor. See here:

    ‘Pissed off’ and the Cursing Darling


  51. FOARP Says:

    @Blairsupporter – “well, the turnout was 50% in Wales, not 25%”

    Quite correct, my misremembering.

  52. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Raffiaflower:
    not aware of the examples you cited. But sounds not dissimilar to China 2008.

  53. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I should add to Nimrod that, if you don’t believe in human rights, then have the stones to just say so. If you don’t think China in its current state is capable of enjoying the luxury of human rights, then say that. But don’t try to demonize something just to provide an excuse to deride it. That’s weak.

  54. Michelle Says:


    Also not aware of those two examples, but you can choose a million examples, so why not just say something like slavery.

    As a member of a group which has been discriminated against and denied rights across eras and cultures, and as a citizen of a time and place where i, personally, don’t face such issues, I might say that despite the fact that practice of fundamental human rights may fall short of the theory, it is a much better choice to fight to narrow the gap rather than to shrug and scrap the whole idea.

  55. Wukailong Says:

    @demin: It might help to know that “ideology” doesn’t have the negative connotations in English that it currently has in Chinese. In the same vein, “propaganda” is not a loaded word in Chinese, but it is in English.

  56. NMBWhat Says:

    another NWO stooge. Nothing too ee here.

  57. Allen Says:


    Compared to Mizuguchi Tony Blair’s insights on China are like that of a primary school pupil.

    If Blair’s words had been written by a Chinese intellectual, it would probably not have been remarkable. However, part of the newsworthiness of Blair’s article I think is that it is being articulated by a well respected Western Leader and being published in a prominent influential editorial…

  58. BlairSupporter Says:

    Ref: Allen’s comment:


    Compared to Mizuguchi Tony Blair’s insights on China are like that of a primary school pupil.

    If Blair’s words had been written by a Chinese intellectual, it would probably not have been remarkable. However, part of the newsworthiness of Blair’s article I think is that it is being articulated by a well respected Western Leader and being published in a prominent influential editorial…

    Exactly so. And few in the west have yet come to this point. But they will.

  59. Denis Says:

    Who Is Actually Exaggerating the Rise of China?

    “It should be said that the tricks used by some Westerners involving ‘destruction through excessive praise’ on China are not at all clever. If one is not ignorant, they certainly could not take them seriously. For example, Britain’s former Prime Minister Mr. Blair recently called into question the phenomenon in which some, under the pretext of the Olympics, used ‘destruction through excessive praise’ on China. He feels that China is in the middle of a journey and is quickly going forward yet it is very clear that the journey is not over. He warns that observers should try to think of a way to point out that the trip is unfinished, but should also acknowledge the distance they have already traveled. What’s interesting is that this article’s original title was ‘Perhaps China’s Rise Has Been Exaggerated,’ but upon its publishing by the Wall Street Journal the title became ‘We Can Help China Embrace the Future’ and was then translated as ‘We Must Eliminate Historical Arrogance Towards China’ upon its publishing in China. That the title of the same article would be labeled with a different title in different countries is not at all novel. The main point is that the alternating tension and release going on between what is being expressed mentally causes a long-lasting impression.” Wang Long (王龙)


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