East and West: China, Power, and the Future of Asia
By Christopher Patten
As a sticker on the cover announces, this is the book that Rupert Murdoch refused to publish.
Random House (1998)
Reviewed by: Eric Howard
Christopher Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong, is a career politician with the great gift of common sense. In this forthright book, he reviews the economic and political landscape of China and Asia and advocates transparency and the rule of law. He makes the claim, on pragmatic grounds, that good government is good for business, and he argues on behalf of the people of Hong Kong, whose hopefulness and self-reliance he admires.
Great Britain has been blessed during its history with a disproportionate number of talented leaders. With this book, Patten establishes himself as one of those few, such as Burke or Churchill, who have combined real-world leadership with rhetorical and argumentative abilities that rate as literature. Also like Burke, Patten is an ethical conservative, arguing that for things to stay the same, they must change, and that corruption, venality, and abuse of power are ultimately counterproductive.
When Lord Macartney came to China in 1793, he refused to kowtow to the emperor. Macartney felt that to touch his head nine times on the carpet was to lower himself more than he did for his own king, George III. Leaving China in 1998, Patten writes: "Economic growth, as the wise American diplomat Morton Abramowitz has argued, produces more than just more economic growth. It both engenders and requires greater political pluralism. Technology, economic choices, personal prosperity, education, travel—all these help produce a political agenda. Men and women who scan the Internet for information...who...invest wisely, who see...how others live, are not content for long to be denied the right to...decide their own future."
Eric Howard is associate editor of Los Angeles Lawyer.