Chris Patten in Shanghai

On Tuesday night me and two coworkers (a Brit/South African and a Hong Kongese) went to the renovated Glamour Bar to see Chris Patten give a talk. The new Glamour Bar was quite nice, it moved down below M on the Bund (used to be above it) and has a nice layout for a happy hour type of gathering. Lord Patten came on to the stage around 6:15 and started with a few words about Shanghai, about the M restaurants as well as some other quips that I don’t really remember (but they had me and the crowd laughing).

The name of the event was “The Wisdom and Wit of Chris Patten” and he then started in to the wisdom bit with five points that I assumed came from his most recent book. The basic jist of what he said was how America had backed away from the rules based global leadership that it had exhibited in the last 50 years of the 20th century and how the rise of India and China dictated and necessitated a return to a lot of the globalist policies that America and Europe had once embraced. One of the other main points he made was that Europe needed to stop its xenophobic move regarding Eastern Europe as well as EU expansion.

Unfortunately I can’t really recall everything that he said but I came away with a few impressions. He’s very pro-business and lassize-faire (how can you not be when you had been the last Governor of Hong Kong?). The manner in which he spoke had that aura of an 1970s glamourous British diplomat: every word measured and timed; what was spoken and moreso what was unspoken gave the true meaning of his speech. He was quite captivating to listen to and his speech exuded education and experience far beyond what I’ve seen from American politicians.

During the question & answer period there were a lot of good and probing questions asked including one by some idiot American that rambled in an English that was worse than a lady from Zimbabwe who’d asked another question. However, the last question that was asked was what he sees in Hong Kong’s future. He answered that it was inevitable that democracy would soon arrive and it was the only place in the world where a free nation (e.g. the rule of law existed, open business practices, an uncorrupted police force, etc) exists without a democratic process. The China Daily has an article about his visit to Shanghai and briefly mentions his talk at Glamour Bar.

After the talk, I got a copy of a friend’s book signed and then went to M on the Bund for dinner. M has now firmly placed itself as my favorite restaurant in Shanghai. I’ve been twice and it’s been consistently great. About half way through our meal Lord Patten ended up sitting at the table beside ours, so we got to watch the spectacle of his entourage and some very obvious sycophants. It was quite amusing to, since he started alone and sat as his table reading his Economist and after his quiet time was up about 12 people decended on his table to join him for dinner.