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The British have woken up today to discover just how low their nation has sunk. In a remarkable snub, Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly insisting on bringing his own drinking water to a banquet later this month at Buckingham Palace.

He and his wife have also declined to eat the proposed turbot-and-crab starter. Yet turbot is a prized delicacy that, if Wikipedia is any guide, is widely farmed around the world, not least in China. It happens moreover to be one of the Queen’s favorites. Xi’s excuse apparently is that he prefers smoked or cured fish.

Britain’s sense of offended dignity is hardly diminished by the fact that Buckingham Palace prides itself on putting on some of the world’s most sumptuous banquets. (Click here for a glimpse of what you are missing.)

So what is really going on here? As always where the Chinese are concerned, several explanations are possible. None, however, seems particularly flattering to the cravenly indebted nation that the United Kingdom has become.

Xi’s stated antipathy towards British drinking water seems particularly arch. After all, there have been no reports of a similar diplomatic flap about drinking water elsewhere (his visit to the White House last month went off without any culinary or hygienic concerns).

Xi is being deliberately insulting. But why? What we know for sure is that the Chinese have a chip on their shoulder about past slights. Not the least of these has been an age-old Western concern about Chinese hygiene standards. That said, latter-day Chinese leaders are practical people who rarely let past resentments get in the way of diplomacy. They are also often extremely indirect (they have indeed been “cordial” in pressing their culinary requests with Buckingham Palace but then in China it is the mark of a sophisticated insult that it is delivered with a smile).

One possibility is that Beijing may be making a public point about some private, more geopolitically significant, difference, either with the British royal family or the Foreign Office. There is, for instance, the fact that Prince Charles has long criticized China’s record in Tibet. It is not yet clear whether Charles will attend the banquet.

What is remarkable, however, is the evident confidence with which the Chinese have delivered their insult. Even as recently as five years ago they would surely have shrunk from so openly mocking the British establishment. They are now increasingly frank in showing the world they have turned the tables on a once-imperialistic Britain.

A stunning manifestation of British decline came a few months ago when the British government allowed state-owned Chinese interests to take a stake in Hinkley Point C, which is expected to be one of Britain’s largest new nuclear power stations. The irony here is that in the 1950s Britain led the world in introducing nuclear power.


The Hinkley Point deal is emblematic of rapidly growing Chinese financial influence. The U.K. is now, in relative terms, even more heavily dependent on foreign finance than the United States and has become massively indebted to China. The trend has lined many pockets in the London financial district and this helps explain why the attack dogs of the Britain media, who need things explained to them in words of one syllable, have so far had little to say about it. For the most part, they are snoozing soundly in their kennels.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Britain, China 
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  1. Stogumber says:

    “For the most part, they are snoozing soundly in their kennels.”
    And that’s a good thing.
    Britain invented modern imperialism and, under Jewish influence, invented economical-imperialist warfare. The “opium wars” are the most sinister, and most “forgotten” (secretized), wars of the West, but they are not forgotten in China.
    So it’s a good thing that the Chinese get the upper hand, and please don’t stir up the media.

    Dumb people will always become debtors, but it’s much better we are indebted to the Chinese (who are egotist, but not hostile or interfering) than to the Jews (who are egotist and also hostile and interfering).

  2. 5371 says:

    For really masterful trolling, Xi would breathe London’s most-polluted-in-western-Europe air only through a mask.

    • Replies: @San Fernando Curt
  3. I presume it is your second subject (the connection of which to the first you may care to elaborate) that is the one on which you would expect the UK press to be saying more. But why? Apart from some meretricious populist beating up of xenophobia what point is to be made?

  4. I was intrigued by your story of the alleged Chinese insult so did a search for a number of its ingredients. All I found was a Daily Mail account which left no impression of insult or indeed anything particularly unusual. Are you just grabbing a tabloid style headline point or are you willing to stake your credibility on knowing something that only experts on the Chinese leadership and/or Royal luncheons for foreign visitors could tell us plebs?

    I am beginning to wonder whether you are suffering from what a then recently retired former Foreign Minister complained of, namely “relevance deprivation syndrome”.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  5. @Wizard of Oz

    OMG this really is a come down for a journalist of your experience and former standing. Now I see that you have just manufactured your beatup from the one middle brow tabloid source that I found when searching as noted above. Ah! But we have the benefit of your knowledge of China from living for so many years in Japan.

  6. Escher says:

    Pax Sinica is coming, and 21st century Kiplings will be writing about the yellow man’s burden.

  7. @Stogumber

    “Forgotten”? By whom?

    But you then invent a word and appear to offer it as explanatory. “Secretized” indeed. Did you decide that “forgotten” might be rubbish – as it is – but were too lazy to make up your mind? If that neologism means anything (and kindly spare me from any online search discovery that some other semi-literate invented the word for you) it must mean that people took the trouble to conceal the fact of the opium wars. More ridiculous rubbish but let me give you formally the offer to read any justification you can proffer for whatever you intend “secretized” to convey.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  8. A reply to Wizard of Oz

    Your suggestion that there is no issue here is wide of the mark. The British press has been asking for some time whether Charles will attend the banquet, and no clear answer has been forthcoming. For the record Charles did not attend similar banquets in the past (given for President Jiang Zemin in 1999 and President Hu Jintao in 2005). It will take an awful lot of pressure from China’s factotums in the British establishment to force Charles to attend this time, but if he does, you can chalk it up as a seminal event in China’s rise — and Britain’s decline.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  9. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Wizard of Oz is’s resident sophist.

  10. @anonymous

    See Comment #10. Does that count as affirmation.

  11. David says:

    Serve him something from China’s most popular restaurant, KFC. Since he’s an important person and impressions count, I suggest the 16 piece Chicken, 4 Large Sides, 8 Biscuits (Feeds 8+) Bucket Meal.

    • Agree: Seminumerical
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  12. @anonymous

    I’m slipping. Actually I think you chose the wrong insult. Did you not mean “pedant”?.

    OK I’ll anticipate the answer: “That too”

  13. If Charles is now the centre of our Royal Correspondent’s story let me break the good news . With the help of Chinese medicine the Queen is not going to retire or die until she can be sure that the idiot heir is so generally regarded as gaga that Prince Will can take over. This will have the further effect of confounding Australian republicans who have been content to say that the republic can be postponed until the Queen dies….the Vox Populi could still be all for Kate after a warm up tour of her home country by Denmark’s Aussie Mary. Thank G I live mostly in a country where we have to generate importance and weighty fears out of a young Kurd shooting a Chinese police accountant and China perhaps not calling on its major southern quarry to ramp up profitable activity and employment again for another few years. No danger that we can’t go on supporting our 200 per cent entitlement democracy until US and European breakdown sends messages enough voters worry about. (That’s optimism for you in a country where 90 per cent of supposed adults vote).

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  14. Sean says:

    As I understand it the British government could not get finance so went to the Chinese and guaranteed the Chinese government’s investment in Hinkley Point, which is being built by a French company to a French design. Osborne has noted that the choice to pursue Chinese investment to fund the project frees up British public finances from having to cover the upfront cost. But significant concessions have had to be met to attract this international investment. Under the government’s Contract for Difference, the strike price for the electricity that Hinkley Point C will eventually produce has been set at £92.50 per MWh, around double the current wholesale price, and locked in for 35 years.

    While the strike price suggests the British public will be paying back the initial investment in the form of higher energy bills, EDF and other champions of the project have argued that energy prices will be a much closer match with Hinkley’s strike price by the time the plant goes online in the mid-2020s.

    “Aspects of the proposed deal have led many to question the project’s value for money.”
    Nevertheless, government guarantees extended to the project – £2bn of which were announced by Osborne in Beijing last month – mean that taxpayers are also reportedly now on the hook for around two thirds of the total project cost. With the vast majority of investors put off by the risks associated with the project, critics of the scheme have argued that desperation rather than long-term planning has driven the generous terms delivered to China by the UK.

    “The Chinese have Osborne over a barrel,” reads a September editorial by the Observer business agenda. “One wonders what other incentives have been offered to avoid a humiliating U-turn on Hinkley. The final deal, assuming it is agreed, should be published in full: and parliament should comb every line.”

    Britain does not have advanced technology or even the private investment.

    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
  15. @Sean

    A depressing tale, although a lot of the nuclear disaster blame surely belongs at Blair’s door. In 1998, to the Guardian’s delight, he announced that no more new nuclear power stations would be built in the UK. 17 years on, a generation of engineers have retired, and another generation is missing thanks to that one decision.

    • Replies: @Sean
  16. I suspect that the Hinckley investment should just be added to the account of European sanctimonious foolishness over AGW. Despite all the CO2 emitted while making the cement used at Hinckley the nuclear power will be part of the UK’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.

    But what about the high speed rail to Birmingham Mr F? Can’t you, as an old FT man, pick up the reference in today’s FT to the UK seeking Chinese investment in that and make something bad out of it? (I take a different stance and criticise politicians infected by anti-Keynesian Austrianism who neglect the opportunity to use really cheap money from wherever they can get it long term in order to build infrastructure which will probably earn more than its running, depreciation and maintenance costs).

    James Kynge’s and George Parker’s article about the Xi visit is scandalously neglectful of the subtleties of Charles and Turbot and bottled water insults and even suggests that the Chinese and Brits have been competing to find the best way to describe current good UK-Chinese relations in glowing terms. They don’t actually say that China’s lack of a welfare state means that there are vast quantities of Chinese savings which earn very little interest and, because of that and for political reasons, tends to head abroad where it will be safe from expropriation and may earn a bit more. But that’s the fact as anyone acquainted with the Chinese impact on real estate markets in the Anglosphere would have noticed. And the article does mention that the Chinese are seeking to have London provide a foreign exchange market for the ren min bi.

    I am not quite sure that Mr. F’s implicit picture of the Russian or Polish landowner aristocrat patronising the Jews of the Pale as applied to the CCP’s aristocracy patronising the grovelling islanders quite rings true, however emotionally satisfying to those of us who might turn out occasionally on St Patrick’s Day to honour the Irish in us.

    • Replies: @5371
  17. 5371 says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    So a Chinese who has so little money that his decisions are influenced by China’s lack of a welfare state simultaneously has so much money that he can invest in UK prime real estate?

  18. @5371

    Having long ago nominated you for my Commenters to Skip list I was surprised to find your curious confession sent to my email Inbox.

    Why I wondered would someone sign such a message “Idiot” at #18.

    Was it satirical or whimsical or was it remarkable self-knowledge by the truly stupid?

    Possibly the latter I had to conclude as the author does seem unable to read any better than he can think.

    Let me explain that in the simple terms obviously necessary. The savings are made by people who need to save because there is no welfare state to look after the feckless. The Chinese, amazing as it may may seem to Americans protected by a Munro doctrine of the mind from disturbing knowledge of the foreign, have banks and other savings institutions. Somehow – perhaps thanks to American missionaries – the Chinese have learned how to use banks as aggregators of funds for loans to people who like borrowing money at low interest rates so they can invest it at higher rates of return. Clever people some of those Chinese!

    Of course some Americans understood these things long ago when complaints started to be made about the baleful effects of excess Chinese savings on poor American chumps who couldn’t help themselves when offered cheap money to bid up prices of anything for sale.

    Sorry to be a bit patronising but anyone without a medium term memory problem would recall all of that.

    I concede that the word “idiot” was spelled correctly. That’s quite promising. Perhaps the boy is ready for a copy of the Children’s Encyclopaedia for Christmas. But only if his manners improve and uncle can be assured that he wrote to Grandma to thank her for that trip to Disneyland she paid for.

  19. @5371

    Short version: stick to the Little League laddy.

    • Replies: @5371
  20. Sean says:
    @Anonymous Nephew

    Blair’s tripled immigration in his first year in government, and the increases continued so that by the time Labour left office more were coming each year that in the previous nine centuries and the UK was on course to be the most populous country in the EU. Very difficult to see how he could have thought nuclear power could be dispensed with in the long term. Thank Blair and Thatcher for Britain being about the only Western country that has been de-seriously industrialised and lost manufacturing capacity. It should not surprise that Britain is unable to design and build a nuclear power station or come up with private sector funding. With low interest rates, borrowing to invest lets the financial elite harvest massive profits, so they are not about to invest in necessary long term infrastructure projects.

    Maybe some pro miner sentiment played a part but Blair was probably influenced by the CND opinion in his party, . Nuclear power is associated with war. A fear of WW3 was certainly the explanation for opposition to nuclear power generation in Germany, which culminated in Merkel’s 2011 declaration that Germany would be nuclear free by 2022. Of course that was when Germany was expected to have a rapidly shrinking population. Now that Merkel has decided to import over a million people a year , Germany will certainly not be able to meet its own needs in the future, and will have to import nuclear generated electricity from Czech republic or somewhere.

  21. 5371 says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    You need a new Alzheimer’s drug. This one isn’t getting it done.

  22. Fingleton, this was a desperate piece. The potato famine was 170 years ago. Get over it!

    • Replies: @Sean
  23. Sean says:

    Firk, I think Ireland has demonstrated its own financial elite are quite capable of running the country into the ground without anyones help.

    Britain is where the foreign elites send their kids to school. China doesn’t do business in the UK unless the government guarantee the investment.

  24. Seck says:

    If British wants to sunbathe in the glory of the past in this 21st century, there are a few options they can execute.

    1. Colonize other countries to work for their queens. If Queens chartered whatever Sir. to sail and invade as they wish, whatever Sir. will do so. Just imagine the whole world is your working class, and British in the tiny island enjoy the upper echelon status, you can again achieve your wish of “The Great Britain” from the past.

    2. There’s no option here. If you can’t do option 1, you’re doomed. You either tag along with the rising Sun (You’ll always will be a lap dog) or you’re left behind.

    Name any nations that became so much powerful without “colonizing”, “bloodsucking” other nations, albeit might as well improve their colonies, and became the Great Empire in the history of the mankind?

    Finish counting?

    Ever imagine Sri Lanka will one day become the Great Empire?
    New Zealand will lead the world in global economy?
    Iceland will pioneer the world in scientific progress?

    Without bloodsucking, no tiny nation can ever lead the global affairs. Britain stays in power because of their past achievement and sustain their wealth through establishing global financial practices so on and so forth.

    Those Royal families are just a bunch of figureheads, nothing else.

    • Replies: @5371
  25. Sean says:

    Irwin Stelzer: UK Deals With China “Create Threats” to US. He points out the power stations will come on line in 2025, by which time all the politicians who authorised it will be gone.

    If this nuclear thing is in the long term interest of the UK then why doesn’t the UK gov pay for it by borrowing money on the same rationale people take out loans for beneficial long term projects like their education? George Osborne is just interested balancing the budget for short term political advantage and if that means handing China a giant wedge on UK policy in the future it’s no skin off Osborne’s nose. He publicly said Britain should ‘run to China’, and Britain proved they meant it by backing the internationalisation of the Chinese currency, a shock to the US.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  26. 5371 says:

    [Colonize other countries to work for their queens]

    Yes, and I’m not talking about Queen Elizabeth.

  27. This Is Our Home [AKA "Robert Rediger"] says:

    If this nuclear thing is in the long term interest of the UK then why doesn’t the UK gov pay for it by borrowing money on the same rationale people take out loans for beneficial long term projects like their education? George Osborne is just interested balancing the budget for short term political advantage and if that means handing China a giant wedge on UK policy in the future it’s no skin off Osborne’s nose. He publicly said Britain should ‘run to China’, and Britain proved they meant it by backing the internationalisation of the Chinese currency, a shock to the US

    We could borrow the money to finance the power station and Osborne could quite easily shift the borrowing required off books, but ‘running to China’ is the point; running away from the US is implied.

    Britain is Cameron and Osborne’s home and China, though far from a philanthropist, will at least allow us to keep it. The American elite have a different vision, and we have to find other friends in order to escape them.

    We will see whether I am correct or not when Cameron damns the pro-EU referendum effort with faint campaigning.

    • Replies: @Sean
  28. If this nuclear thing is in the long term interest of the UK then why doesn’t the UK gov pay for it by borrowing money on the same rationale people take out loans for beneficial long term projects like their education?

    Who do you think buys much of the government debt that Britain continues to rack up to the tune of tens of billions a year? Yeah, it’s those pesky Chinese again.

    The popular perception is this story is that the French, in the form of EDF, are providing the technical know-how and the Chinese are only providing some of the finance. EDF and China have been in partnership for a number of years building nuclear reactors in China. Much of the technical knowledge and skilled workforce are actually Chinese. An EDF bigwig is alleged to have claimed that the only thing the Brits will supply is the grunt-work. The British nuclear industry hasn’t built a new reactor since the 1980s, so all its skills are pretty much confined to maintenance of the current fleet.

  29. Sean says:
    @This Is Our Home

    Ex City PR man (a job arranged by his future mother in law) Cameron is going to tell the stupid Germans in Dusseldorf that they can’t rein in the City or the UK will leave the EU. I think Cameron understands that the Chinese like Britain because it is is in the European market. It is their back door into the EU, a bit like the back door they will build into Hinkley Point design.

    If every other UK infrastructure project and the London centred construction boom is a guide there will be precious few British workers grunting on the project.

    Firk, well the north Korean reactor was based on the declassified plans of the Magnox, so maybe that is where we should go for expertise.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  30. This Is Our Home [AKA "Robert Rediger"] says:

    I think Cameron understands that the Chinese like Britain because it is is in the European market.

    I think that the Chinese like Britain for many reasons. The historical rebalancing and subsequent symbolism must be a big factor, but so must be prising in on ‘the special relationship’ and the very real economy benefits from cooperatiom and trade as Britain is still a considerable power.

    Also, the casinos and the London property market, but I repeat myself.

    In the end, I think that the Chinese would like to see Britain leave the EU and would be supportive of a UKIP, or similar, government. Then again I’m just guessing.

    If it were about being in the common market then China could pick off a small easily bought off country somewhere in the east, or Greece.

    Cameron will, and maybe this is just wishful thinking, soft sell the EU, handle the subsequent bad press of losing a referendum and step down before the next election to allow a fresh conservative to take charge free of EU manipulation.

    I do know that a lot of this might be fantasy but we shall see.

  31. Sean says:
    The value of the Grangemouth chemicals plant, which Ineos had once valued at 400 million pounds was written down to nothing by them in October 2013 during conflict with the union. Later that month it was reported that PetroChina was unhappy with the return on the billion dollars cash they had paid for a 50% stake in the Grangemouth, Scotland and Lavera, France refineries. According to a Hong Kong business analyst: “The European refineries are pretty much loss making. In future there won’t be any similar investments”.[30]

    Chinese all learn English. I don’t think they are interested in Britain as a place to do business although they like the schools and it is useful for dumping subsidised goods like steel. Britain is the most open major economy and big enough to guarantee their investments. They can’t use a little country because they need banks that are backed by a major country’s assets.

  32. @Stogumber

    The “opium wars” are the most sinister, and most “forgotten” (secretized), wars of the West, but they are not forgotten in China.

    Indeed, the white underclass in North America, Australia and New Zealand are now heavy users of illegal drugs sourced from China.

  33. @5371

    …Only if China’s air were pristine. As is, breathing the air in old Cathay is comparable to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.

    • Replies: @5371
  34. @David

    Would that include the feet?

  35. @Wizard of Oz

    This will have the further effect of confounding Australian republicans…

    No country with Australia’s Murdochian firearms laws can be called a true republic.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  36. @Reg Cæsar

    I wonder what you actually know about Australia. It is not a republic as opposed to constitutional monarchy and voted against the proposal 15+ years ago to replace the Queen plus Governor-General arrangement for our head of state and it is generally accepted that no change will again be attempted in the Queen’s lifetime (unless she abdicates).

    I am not sure what you mean by a “true republic”. Since the earliest tepublics got by without firearms perhaps you mean that they only work if everyone is allowed to bear the heaviest most potent weapons that a man can carry???

    Evidence needed I think.

    Australia has a comparatively low homicide rate and very low firearms death rate and its firearms laws are basically aimed at ensuring that fully automatic weapons are not in private hands (and therefore unlikely to be easily available for theft) and that only the non-criminal can buy or own firearms (which also have to be securely) locked up when not in use to the best of my knowledge. We have an Australian Shooters Party so obviously guns are available.

    And what has Murdoch got to do with any of this?

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  37. I didn’t say Australia was a republic; I was addressing those who claim they want her to be.

    Most of the laws you cite are already in force in the US.

    And what has Murdoch got to do with any of this?

    He’s just one of a string of fellows from Australia’s ostensible right who like to preach to Americans about guns:

    Murdoch: When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy.

    [They found it in 1934, Mr Murdoch. You run a news bureau?]

    Douglas Turnbull: I suspect they will find the courage when Fox News enthusiastically campaigns for it…

    […and then goes bankrupt, Mr Turnbull. Don’t run a news bureau.]

    John Howard: I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too.

    Buybacks are a joke in the US. If the Australian one actually disarmed potential criminals, the participants should have turned in their right to vote, as well.

  38. Hibernian says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Freedom rests on 3 boxes – the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  39. @Reg Cæsar

    For some reason my substantial reply to the effect that you are trying to do what John Howard in his careful NYT op-ed didn’t do, namely prescribe (in your last par. by necessary implication) for a country not one’s own was refused because my correctly stated email address was not recognised

  40. Freedom to do and avoid what for whom? I note that you don’t mention an independent judiciary.

    What good did the ballot box or juries do for blacks for 100 years in the South – and earlier of course?

  41. @Reg Cæsar

    The UR software has me fooled but, in case a reply that I improvised as “Wizard of Oz bugged” doesn’t get up please note that John Howard didn’t prescribe for your country but you are apparently making the amazing claim that law abiding Australians who sold their guns to the government ought to have no vote as citizens!
    BTW did you read his NYT op-ed?

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  42. @Hibernian

    Freedom for whom to do what or be free from what? No independent judiciary? Were juries and the ballot enough in the South for 100 years?

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  43. Hibernian says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Juries tend to be more independent than judges. In the U.S. many judges are elected, and most others are appointed by elected officials. Unfortunately some are appointed off lists prepared by “independent” nominating commissions that are anything but independent. This has not worked out well.

    In the South before and for many years after the Civil War 2nd Amendment rights as well as voting rights and the linked jury serving rights were for white people only. (Gun control, ironically, began in the now very pro-gun South to keep guns out of black hands.) The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed with the expectation that black, and black-friendly white, officials would be elected and that black people would join the jury pool which was drawn from voter registration lists, thus according blacks other rights, previously enjoyed by whites but denied to blacks by racist white officials. These include freedom from violence and the freedom to use public accommodations on an equal basis.

    The South has historically, in my opinion, been behind the rest of us in the US in many ways, but I think at least in the recent past they’ve had a lot more common sense than the rest of us.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  44. Hibernian says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    I think the logic of the claim was that IF the guns turned in were criminal owned guns, then their turners-in were criminals and should forfeit the right to vote on that basis. Someone acting as a straw turner-in for a criminal would be a criminal themselves, as an accomplice. Also, the title alone of the Howard Op-Ed is obviously a prescription for the U.S.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  45. @Hibernian

    Author’s don’t choose the op-ed titles unless (say 1 in 10,0000) they specially demand to fo so. So I acceptt his disclaimer.

  46. @Hibernian

    I once led a major study of juries worldwide from Hong Kong to Canada and US to Ireland and England (it was commissioned with the principal aim of advising on exclusions, e.g. lawyers – though not everywhere in the US we discovered – exemptions, eg. OA pensioners and challenges, but we went further in eg. advising that defendants ought to be able to choose trial by judge alone which is a no brainer if you are an elderly immigrant with a thick accent who is accused of pederasty). My strongest impression was of avoidance of cognitive dissonance Almost everyone defends their own system. And few of the defences stood up at all unless you told yourself it could be worse. In Hong Kong (I already knew from an English businessman born in China who had served on HK juries) the prosecutor started a mile ahead because of the ? Confucian ? culture. The different systems in the US where juries could be vetted (though challenges are still available in my Oz state the amount of information available on jurors is so slight that the challenges are pretty well confined to the 10 seconds look at the juror entering the court and walking to the jury box) ranged right up to the bizarrely expensive though the system in Federal courts explained to us by a chap called Eric Holder, who I believe became someone more important, seemed rational and orderly in comparison to the state courts.

    In the UK and Ireland I was delighted (as one of mixed ancestry) to have confirmed my belief that the English and Irish are about as like each other as any pair of nationalities. The same potential bloody-mindedness (“independence”) towards authority if not popular ignorance and prejudice which, in some cot death cases, has been shown to be beyond the numeracy of lawyers too (Google “Sir Roy Meadows” who was even guiltier than the stupid lawyers- utterly shocking….)

    My very strong prejudice is against election of judges and of prosecutors. Obviously there is a great deal of independence in the superior courts of eg. LA where the elections were/are more or less a formality when the Bar association makes its recommendations – likely to work less well in a small community in the South I guess. But then I opposed the introduction of “victim impact statements” (if the mothers lament, totally untested, moves the sentencing judge deeply does that improve the quality of justice?).

    The chances of a professional person getting a jury of his/her peers is negligible almost everywhere though the judge (later Lord Phillips of the Supreme Court as it now is) in the Maxwell brothers trial in London in 1995 contrived to empanel a jury that could mostly stay awake for a six month trial on financial fraud – though one young man was seen with his feet up and eyes closed three months into the trial. For inadequate reasons a group of Tories had responded to some scandal a few years before by managing to have all challenges – at least those without cause (and I’m not sure how “for cause” could have been made to work on nothing but the jurors’ names) – abolished.

    I would hate to be tried by a jury but then as an old uncle said “I don’t want to be found Not Guilty: I don’t want to be tried”.

    As you might surmise I could ramble on inconclusively about justice in our infinitely imperfect world for a long time. It might be easier to believe in life after death and a merciful but just deity…

  47. TB2 says:

    It was said that the Chinese used to refer to Bill Clinton when he was President as “The Traitor.” The elites of virtually every Western nation are essentially committing genocide against their own people and dissolving their own nations. They’re busting them out the way the Mob busts out businesses they take over. Why shouldn’t the Chinese or anyone sane have contempt for them, particularly now after the Merkel holocaust. Who could possibly respect them, they’re history’s greatest failures.

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