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Chris Patten: “my first sight of China”

Chris Patten was in Beijing this weekend. He spoke in the Bookworm on his new book, ‘What’s Next?’ (answer: a painful reminder of how expensive it is to buy English books in China). Here are a few choice quotes, besides his endorsement of Barack Obama:

“The US is still the only country that matters everywhere”

“Why is Europe Venus instead of Mars? Well, we tried Mars and it turned out pretty disastrously”

“I’m a believer in democracy despite Governor Palin”

“The House of Lords [in Britain] is a proof of life after death”

To mark the moment, here is Chris Patten talking to me about his first visit to China: an excursion from Hong Kong to the then “sleepy fishing village” of Shenzhen in 1979. How times change. Below it is a Mandarin subtitled version (translation by Wang Yao).

For more from this interview, see my earlier post. Go on.

Postscript: the following evening, Lord Patten hosted the Beijing launch of the Campaign for the University of Oxford (he is their Chancellor). Contrary to popular opinion, Oxford does not have hidden caves filled with gold bullion beneath its dreaming spires. It needs the generosity of its alumni if it is to survive this century as a world-leading teaching and research University. (Full disclosure: I was the web editor of said Campaign last year.)