Friday, December 20, 2013

In China with Cameron and Blair

Back from a fascinating trip to China (Beijing, HK, Shanghai, Beijing and Sanya) seeing many old friends and making new ones, and learning a lot. Much of it is un-bloggable.

I began by giving the final talk at a Symposium organized by HMG and the PBOC which was opened by Andrew Bailey and Pan Gongsheng. This was organised as part of the PM's visit although because I was speaking at the Symposium I didn't get to see Cameron who was in many meetings elsewhere, but my colleague Lena did and he was in good form.

At the weekend went to HK at the invitation of my friend Andrew Sheng for his Asia Global Dialogue organized by the Fung Foundation. It was great to see Andrew again and Mike Spence, to make many new friends and to gain some fascinating insights. 

Breakfast in Shanghai on Monday and then took the fast train to Beijing via Nanjing and Jinan. It was fascinating to see some of the Chinese countryside. Shanghai was having particularly bad smog – they all realize the have to do something about this but it’s a hard problem.

Then to the Sanya Forum which is the most southerly point I have travelled. About 2000 people mostly Chinese and I was one of the very few English people present (maybe 10?) Again very good to see some friends like Liu Chuanzhi, Jesse Wang and Andrew Sheng, to meet many new people and to renew some key acquaintances.

Quite by chance I bumped into a dear friend of my dear friend Susannah Feinnes – she had been trying to connect me and Angela for a couple of years but our paths hadn’t crossed and it was great to meet her. The Forum had no Nobel Laureates but two former PMs: Dominique de Villepin and Tony Blair. Both gave impressive speeches but TB’s was exceptional. He was the undoubted star of the show, quoted with approval by every major session afterwards. I hadn’t met him before but we had a brief chat and he’d get my vote for President of Europe should he run, even though I never voted for him as PM.

There was aslo an evening concert with the China Philharmonic and Sumi Jo who was impressive. She and Nicole (Cabell) may well know each other (Nicole is part-Korean) but although we smiled and waved at each other as we passed in the corridor I didn't have a chance to speak as I had to rush to meet  TB.

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