East and West – an exquisitely written book – is on three levels.
Level One is about why he insisted on democratizing Hong Kong knowing China wanted to take over a colony as a colony. This despite pressures from London to let sleeping dogs lie.
Level Two is about getting his own back on Peking who made his life a misery during his five years as the last Governor of Hong Kong. For example: ‘The Catholic chaplain at a convent once described hearing nuns’ confessions as like being pecked to death by ducks. This is very unfair to nuns, but quite a good description of some Chinese negotiations.’
Level Three is about telling the world that China should not be treated as a special case. He deploys most effectively the general arguments for civil society and that these be applied in China, in the Asian Tiger Economies and indeed elsewhere. What works, works everywhere! Economic growth will not be sustained for long without civil society and freedom is the culture for it. The new information technology makes this fact of life obvious to every nation and everybody within every nation. So beware dictators!
So this book is a text for all of us interested in the politics of developing civil society in all the countries of the world, big and small, East and West.
EAST AND WEST
by Christopher Patten (The Controversial Last Governor of Hong Kong)
Times Books £19.99
This book is now out of print