Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Remember the opium wars

The account of the sad,mad gentleman who has been deprived of life by the Chinese authorities for the carrying of substantial amounts of narcotic substances is distressing.

Nevertheless it ill befits ministers of Her Majesty's government to treat the matter as of diplomatic importance or as an affront to British pride, or even to British values.

For it is barely some 150 years since this nation, most shamefully, went to war with China to enforce the smuggling of drugs into that great country. Her Majesty's ministers are quite entitled to express regret about this present incident, but not dismay, as in the Chinese mind this too readily sounds like a nation that has forgotten the opium trade.

We are no longer a nation who goes to war because a pirate loses his ear. China is a great nation with a great past and a momentous future. There are many breaches of the rights of its citizens for which it can be criticised, now and in the recent past. Its justice is harsh but we should not as a nation look foolish by seeking confrontation over the fate of proven criminals.

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