GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
Who are you? Why do you write about China? Do you know what you are talking about?
These questions often arise as I reach out to a wider audience. So let me fill you in and provide you with reasons why my views on China – despite being a minority view – should reach a growing audience.
The starting point is that China Matters. Remorselessly, relentlessly and inescapably China is growing in importance. It cannot be resisted or avoided. It is a growing fact of life. It is the single most significant development in world affairs in the present era. Whether you approve or disapprove of China, it cannot be marginalised, overlooked or disregarded.
I first visited China in 1965 for eight weeks. My visit was organised by the Youth League and I was welcomed as a good friend. Why? After all, I was just a 20-year-old student with no track record of achievement or influence. I was fortunate – no question. I benefitted from the work undertaken by my father, Jack Perry, who in 1953 became the very first Western businessman to visit the new China. My father was from very modest origins in the East End of London who, despite being a scholarship boy, had to leave school at 14 to find work and contribute to the meagre family income.
I visited Xian, Yan’an, Shanghai, Hangchow, Nanchang, Chingkaing Mountains, Kwangchow, Wuhan and Beijing. It was an extensive introduction to China before even the Cultural Revolution. I have followed China intensively ever since – making many visits for business, arbitration, sport and cultural events. I have kept abreast of developments and used my accumulated experience to play an increasingly prominent role in explaining, assessing, reviewing China’s achievements and setbacks.
Today my experience is invaluable. As my father said, “There are no experts on China, just relative degrees of ignorance and maybe I am a little less ignorant than others”. I feel the same and am keen to go into battle and debate with those so keen to portray China as the International Bad Boy of World Affairs. I know China – warts and all – and today it is more vital than ever that people try to understand China before they dismiss China.
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