Letters: What Hong Kong really needs from Britain

13 June 2020

9:00 AM

13 June 2020

9:00 AM

Hong Kong’s future

Sir: So we have a moral duty to protect the people of Hong Kong and guide them back to the golden world which existed before 1997 under British rule (‘Let them come’, 6 June)? Come off it. It is true that the hope behind the 1984 Joint Declaration was for HK to move gradually to stronger democratic forms, although under the direct authority of the government of the PRC, as it had been with the UK.

What has destabilised Hong Kong and alarmed Beijing is digital grass-roots empowerment — the same thing that half the world’s governments are facing. In Hong Kong it appears in a particularly virulent form. The Chinese have their own way of trying to police it. Other countries have theirs; the Americans are not doing too well at present, nor are the French. Here the police do their best.

The vision of the 1984 Joint Declaration was of a laboratory of cooperation between two great powers. It would help keep Britain in the region as a major influence (and business partner) as the new Asia rose. It was thoroughly forward-looking in promising not to practise socialism within HK, and thoroughly pro-British with China’s promise of ‘mutual beneficial relations’ with the UK. Now it has gone wrong, and unless we put down our megaphones and understand why, more will go very wrong — for Britain, for China and for Hong Kong itself. Clever handling could be a great opportunity for both nations.

Hong Kong was never going to make China more ‘democratic’, but it has certainly made it more capitalist. The best we can do for the people of Hong Kong is to make sure they remain a key part of this. Trump and Pompeo may have their own motives for wanting to throttle HK. But is it really in our interest — and is it our moral duty — to follow them?
David Howell (Lord Howell of Guildford)
London SW7

Matron Sturgeon

Sir: Dr Max Pemberton (‘Nothing to applaud’, 30 May) is right to counsel against obsessing about a Covid apocalypse. Here in Scotland, it is troubling to see how Nicola Sturgeon’s embracing of ‘matron to the nation’ has encouraged a general torpidity. This is anecdotal, but shops in my area of Scotland that could be reopened have remained closed, while small businesses that would legally be able to carry out work classified as essential instead seem content to stay in lockdown.
Mick Wharton


Sir: Regarding Melissa Kite’s lockdown book proposal about keeping a horse (Real Life, 23 May), I am reminded that many aspects of horse care ‘people do because people have always done’. It is my duty to point out certain limitations. For instance, Sudocrem allows skin exudate to accumulate, with the consequence that bacteria can proliferate — thus prolonging mud fever. Secondly, I must be a bad vet by Melissa’s definition, as I only issue prescriptions for ‘Bute’ analgesic for specific conditions following a proper diagnosis. Indiscriminate use of Bute disables a horse’s ability to show the clinical sign of pain, which condemns patients with conditions such as joint infection, laminitis, non-displaced fracture and certain colics to a much poorer prognosis, as treatments are time critical. Here’s a thought. Perhaps the builder boyfriend could release me from the endless DIY tasks I have found to do between calls, and in exchange I will help proof-read Melissa’s book to give an element of evidence-based medicine?
Graham Fowke
Cotts Equine, Narberth, Pembrokeshire

Home arrest

Sir: While large numbers of the populace look forward to the easing of many restrictions, my wife and I will continue with life in a care home (‘Who cared?’, 6 June). We chose to move here last year, due to a combination of factors, although we are youngsters compared with our fellow residents. Until the lockdown we enjoyed visits from family and friends; the home laid on a range of services including a regular church group, hairdresser and library; and we enjoyed occasional outings to local shops and the pub.

All this came to an end with lockdown, and looks set to continue, as residents are deemed to be in need of special protection. It would appear that we are controlled by the diktats of the Care Quality Commission and the NHS. We pay a lot of our own money for the excellent care and services provided by the home, but cannot help but feel that we are enduring a very expensive form of house arrest — for life. The only facility not offered by the home, its ruling quangos and the government is the choice of euthanasia.
James Dent
Brent Eleigh, Suffolk

Get a wood

Sir: With reference to Rory Sutherland’s query (The Wiki Man, 6 June), I believe it was Lord (Victor) Rothschild (1910–1990) who is said to have asserted that: ‘No garden, however small, should be without at least two acres of rough woodland.’
Gerard Sproston
London SE16

On Hinton Manor

Sir: In his tribute to the American-born business tycoon James Sherwood (30 May), Martin Vander Weyer ignores a fact that might be of interest. Sherwood and his wife Shirley’s Oxfordshire home, Hinton Manor at Hinton Waldrist, had previously (till 1979) belonged to Nicholas Davenport, whose weekly commentary on financial matters graced the pages of The Spectator for 25 years from the 1950s. His widely regarded City column was a precursor to Mr Vander Weyer’s ‘Any Other Business’. Mr Davenport wrote a history of the manor, a delightful Tudor property adjacent to the churchyard where Airey Neave is at rest.
Christopher Gray
Osney Island, Oxford


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