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Books By Chris Patten
The diaries of the last British Governor of Hong Kong, published on the 25th anniversary of the handover
In June 1992 Chris Patten went to Hong Kong as the last British governor, to try to prepare it not (as other British colonies over the decades) for independence, but for handing back in 1997 to the Chinese, from whom most of its territory had been leased 99 years previously. Over the next five years he kept this diary, which describes in detail how Hong Kong was run as a British colony and what happened as the handover approached. The book gives unprecedented insights into negotiating with the Chinese, about how the institutions of democracy in Hong Kong were (belatedly) strengthened and how Patten sought to ensure that a strong degree of self-government would continue after 1997. Unexpectedly, his opponents included not only the Chinese themselves, but some British businessmen and civil service mandarins upset by Patten's efforts, for whom political freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong seemed less important than keeping on the right side of Beijing. The book concludes with an account of what has happened in Hong Kong since the handover, a powerful assessment of recent events and Patten's reflections on how to deal with China - then and now.
Not Quite the Diplomat describes what has been happening in Britain, Europe and the world since 1997 from the perspective of one at the heart of international events. In examining how we got to where we are, he writes candidly about many of the major players and what happened behind closed doors. In arguing about where we should be, he writes with the directness of a man freed at last from the bonds of diplomatic restraint.
Will the British still be trying to work out who we are and what we want to be as the world moves on? How far can Europe expand - and is Europe all a terrible mistake or where our destiny lies? Does the old, fractured Western alliance still have the time and the will to shape the world before the rise of India and China? Chris Patten's answers to these questions are pungent and devastatingly well informed. No recent book by a politician of any political persuasion has been so engaging, so outspoken - and often so funny. If Chris Patten is no longer the diplomat, it is the readers of this book who are the beneficiaries.
Globalisation, energy, international crime, Weapons of Mass Destruction, nuclear proliferation, small arms proliferation, international drugs trafficking, climate change, water shortage, migration, epidemic disease, the fraying of the nation state: the list of challenges facing our world is itself proliferating rapidly, and nobody seems to have much of a grip on what is going on. Digesting vast amounts of information from a multiplicity of sources, and drawing on his experience at the highest levels of national and international politics, Chris Patten analyses what we know in each of these areas and argues how in each of them we could get somewhere we might want to be. Very little, he says, has turned out as we might have expected twenty years ago, but there is plenty we can still do.
Readers of Patten's previous books will know what a penetrating analyst and engaging writer he is. This is his most ambitious and impressive yet.