Ben Chu: China – an earthy people, a peaceful people

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The Independent Online

Davos Outlook The Chinese delegation here in Davos is in patronising mood. "The EU is like China in the 1840s – a technology leader in decline," Dr Xiang Bing, of the Cheung Kong Graduate School, told us.

It's a striking analogy, not least because, as history records, something dramatic happened to China when it went into decline: Britain bombarded her ports until the Qing emperor agreed to open the nation's borders to opium imports. And then came a century of colonial humiliation for the Middle Kingdom. But Europe should relax because historical payback could not be further from the Chinese mind.

"We're an earthy people, a peaceful people," Mr Xiang informed the luncheon guests. Judging from the nervous laughter around the table and the mumbling of "Tibet", I'm not sure that everyone was convinced.