Greetings from the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, the training college for the elite cadre of administrators, academics and politicians that run the country.
I am here for a seminar on China’s economic development organised jointly by Wilton Park, an independent agency of the UK Foreign Office that runs political and economic conferences, and the Central Party School. Not long ago, they would have seemed like unlikely bedfellows, but times have changed.
Italians like to wear their qualifications where everyone can see them. Accountants style themselves Ragioniere, architects are always Architetto, and so on. Corporate chieftains whose business successes have long since overshadowed their academic achievements hang on to the handle: so Fiat’s Gianni Agnelli was always l’Avvocato, Carlo De Benedetti is still l’Ingegnere. I used to be rather proud to receive letters addressed to “Egregio Dott. Hill”, when I worked in Milan, until I realised protocol dictated that every university graduate was a Dottore or Dottoressa.