Oct 14, 2010|
It was a bad week for the Chinese government, and also a bad week for me. I lost HK$100 to a friend at the pub betting that Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese dissident, would not be awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. I was wrong.
My judgment was based on the economic fact that Norway has sold over 10 million salmon to China in the last 22 years. The Norwegians cannot afford, as the cliché has it, to offend China because of its trade interests. China is the formidable economic and military monster that has to be engaged with, not confronted, according to former U.S. president Bill Clinton.
Also, after the grim warning delivered to the Nobel Prize Committee at the Chinese embassy in Oslo by Madam Fu Ying, China’s visiting deputy foreign minister, I figured the Chinese diplomatic kung fu would work with yin-and-yang finesse as Madam Fu, a former ambassador to Britain, had charmed many British government officials and the British press with her Oriental finery and elegance. Her apparent “open-mindedness’ and tastes in wine and French cuisine had even bewitched a Financial Times editor into devoting a full sycophantic page to an interview with the charismatic and “liberal” Lady Dragon last year. Seldom has an Oriental feminine creature churned out such romanticism in Europe since Maria Callas took the stage as Madame Butterfly in Puccini’s classic.
That’s why I laid my bet with confidence. But the Norwegians are not the same as the British. As direct descendents of Vikings, they seem to show ungentlemanly but equal cruelty toward both genders with some rigid precision, as the Norwegian ambassador pointed out flatly to his Chinese host that the Nobel Committee is not under the thumb of the national government—typical of Scandinavia.
All hell broke loose after the announcement. The Norwegian ambassador in Beijing was summoned by the Chinese to be warned that Norwegian-Chinese relations would be damaged. I first thought of the coming closure of most Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong thanks to the Senkaku issue, and then the possible boycott of Ericsson and Nokia mobile phones (which have been replaced by iPhones anyway). Perhaps Hong Kong children should also spit and swear at Santa Claus in TST and Central this coming Christmas as well. I know that these are brands of Finland and Sweden, but it’s very much the same, as most Midwestern Americans, including Sarah Palin perhaps, think that Hong Kong is the capital of Thailand or a remote fishing port of Japan.
After the fall of the Senkaku Islands, we’ve spotted a new target. The Japanese should feel lucky that our hatred towards them has been short-lived as usual. Until the Dalai Lama visits Antarctica and we emigrate our people to eat all the penguins there, the Norwegians have good reason to tremble. And so they should.