The dutch

The greed and hypocrisy of the opium trade continue to shock

‘A fact that confounds me now when I think back on it,’ writes the acclaimed Indian author Amitav Ghosh at the start of this expansive and thoughtful book, ‘is that for most of my life China was for me a vast, uniform blankness.’ There were many reasons for this, he says. The war between India and China in 1962 might have played a part, along with the complex relationship between the two countries since then; but also the way that ‘an inner barrier’ has been ‘implanted in the minds’ of many around the world – one that blocks out China but allows in the ‘language, clothing, sport, material objects and

The scandal that collapsed the Dutch government

The Netherlands has a reputation as one of the sensible, efficient countries of Europe. Asked to predict which government was most likely to collapse in the face of a national scandal, many EU watchers would not have bet on Mark Rutte’s government. But while the political fallout has been extraordinary — Rutte cycled to the palace earlier today to tender his entire cabinet’s resignation to the king — the scandal that preceded it has a curiously Dutch feel. Their failure? Mismanagement of the country’s complex child benefit system. Thousands of parents have been driven to financial ruin. A parliamentary committee looking into the tax office fiasco last month labelled it an ‘unprecedented