Elliot Wilson

China needs Britain more than Britain needs China

When King George III sent the diplomat-statesman Lord Macartney to Beijing in 1793 to meet China’s all-powerful Qianlong Emperor, history was in flux. The Celestial Empire had dominated world trade for two millennia, yet it was in a state of protracted decline. Britain in contrast was a rising superpower on whose empire (to use a

Even China can’t buck the market

Some years ago, I sat with an old China hand in a Beijing teahouse sipping oolong. An American director at a local education firm, his face was grey, creased by decades of pollution and office politics. But when talk turned to the country’s first spacewalk, recently completed, his brow furrowed. ‘Have you ever noticed that

China’s ‘Black Monday’ is just the start

One-party states are rarely any good at admitting to any form of blunder. It is certainly the case with China’s prickly political leaders, who love to flood domestic media with jolly tales of fashion shows and bamboo-chomping pandas – anything to divert people’s attention from a flagging economy and rising unemployment. This makes today’s main headline

Exit the dragon

[audioplayer src=”http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/chinasdownturn-labourslostvotersandthesweetestvictoryagainstaustralia/media.mp3″ title=”Elliot Wilson and Andrew Sentance discuss China’s economic slump”] Listen [/audioplayer]I stood alongside the chairman of the board of a state-owned enterprise in eastern China. The factory floor, partially open to the elements, stretched out far in front of us, littered with towers and blades designed for some of the world’s largest wind

Why everyone will suffer if China cracks down on Hong Kong

With all the chaos and confusion engulfing Hong Kong in recent weeks, it’s worth reminding ourselves what an extraordinary city it is — and what a loss to investors the removal of one of the world’s great safe havens would be. Hong Kong has long operated in a culturally neutral zone somewhere between China and

Breaking the bank

The vendetta against Bangladesh’s Nobel Peace Prize winner ‘It is all lies,’ says Muhammad Yunus, his voice quiet but firm. ‘The media in Bangladesh attacks me unceasingly and I cannot stop them, but the accusations are untrue.’ I believe him absolutely. Yunus is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who has done perhaps more than any

Gallantry is a finite resource

Few individuals better personify the eccentric, combative and rarefied world of medal collecting than Michael Ashcroft, the businessman and controversially deep-pocketed Tory party eminence grise. A self-made man whose fortune is estimated by the Sunday Times at £1.1 billion — more than the entire net worth of Belize, the tiny Central American state he calls

Will Kraft’s plastic cheese smother Cadbury’s heritage?

Elliot Wilson says there are synergies between the takeover protagonists — but it will be sad to see the British chocolate maker swallowed by a bloated US conglomerate When consumer goods giant Kraft tabled a £10.2 billion bid for Cadbury two weeks ago, the outcry was immediate and heartfelt. Here was an American monster buying

Keep on digging: Boris’s route to recovery

Elliot Wilson says all the razzmatazz for the start of work on Crossrail highlights the construction industry’s urgent desire to soak up public funds before Tory cuts set in No major city anywhere has achieved as much as London has with such poor public transport at its disposal. Trams that break down; bendy buses that

City Life | 5 September 2009

After 50 years of communist gristle, no wonder old Fidel’s guts are playing up There’s a degree of natural justice in the fact that Fidel Castro had to cede power to his brother Raúl last year because of serious gastro-intestinal problems. Put bluntly, after 50 years of Castro communism, Cuban cuisine is absolutely revolting. It’s

The nuclear power-dresser

Barbara Judge is an extraordinary human being, particularly for those of us who struggle to iron a shirt. Apart from her flawless grooming — in a power suit with a starched ruff, she resembles a cross between Marie Antoinette and Jessica Tandy — she has more titles than most monarchs. Lady Judge, a British-American dual

One day, the kharbouza will be mightier than the Kalashnikov

Afghan farmers can prosper by producing the world’s finest melons, pomegranates and grapes, says Elliot Wilson, but first they must be weaned off growing the opium poppy Modern-day Afghanistan conjures up many fearsome images, from rocket-launchers and retreating Soviet tanks to mujahedin warriors and Taleban zealots. Yet this war-ravaged central Asian state, which has to

Let India 2.0 rise from the ashes of Bombay

Elliot Wilson says that an energetic form of political activism — principally on the internet — is needed in India and there are encouraging signs on Facebook, MySpace and other sites If there is any good to come out of November’s bloody terror attacks in Bombay, it can be found not on the city’s angry

A new job for the IMF: as global policeman

In early November the head of the world’s leading multilateral agency made a remarkable public bid for survival. Speaking in São Paulo, addressing the world’s most powerful finance ministers, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, announced that his institution was the right one to lead us out of our financial and economic

Britain cannot afford a failed Pakistan

Pakistan is a failing state, and barring a mammoth bail-out few can now afford, it will become the world’s first bankrupt nuclear power. Bowed down by our own financial crisis and an economy teetering on the edge of recession, should we care? In sovereign terms the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which last year celebrated its

Chasing dragons: the Chinese army takes up art collecting

In 2003, during a long night of swilling fine French wines in Beijing, talk turned to China’s rising economic fortunes. Old China hands at the table reminisced about camel trains clattering through the capital’s dim 1970s streets. Then a mysterious American chipped in with an extraordinary tale. Back in 1983, he said, China’s coffers were

City Life | 30 August 2008

The credit crunch reaches the home of the rotten apple and the ‘Rolexo’ watch James Gregory Pool III is an elderly, stooping Canadian with a most un-usual job. Every month he boards a plane from Canada with 200 sedated heifers and flies with them to Almaty to beef up and variegate Kazakhstan’s breeding livestock. He’s

Who’s in charge? It’s hapless Hank

It’s becoming harder and harder to believe that anyone is really in charge of the world’s largest economy. Each day brings a new catalogue of woes, miscues and missteps, each of which should have been foreseen long ago. And at the centre of each fresh foul-up stands one man: Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, ‘Hammerin’ Hank’,