‘Use the past to serve the present,’ declares the website of the China Centre of Jesus College, Cambridge. It seems a sensible motto, until you know that it’s the first half of a maxim of Chairman Mao’s, and that the second half is ‘make the foreign serve China’.
The China Centre is directed by Professor Peter Nolan, a fellow of Jesus and an expert on China’s economy. In the 1980s, he studied China’s collective farms and edited a volume that referred to itself as ‘a preliminary attempt to construct a new socialist political-economic strategy for Britain’.
Nolan helped to advise Wen Jiabao, China’s former prime minister, on entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and later appeared as an expert witness before the US Senate, arguing against a ‘strict insistence’ on ‘WTO rules in full’ for China.