Last Word

Learning from the past

Updated: 2011-05-27 11:22

By Andrew Moody (China Daily European Weekly)

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China ceded Hong Kong to the UK at the end of the first Opium War and southern Kowloon in the second in what China maintains were unequal treaties.

"That is the Chinese view of those years. It is slightly simplified and actually it was a more complex relationship. There were great misunderstandings on both sides. There were two civilizations which didn't understand each other and made a mess of their relationship," he says.

As a diplomat, Hurd does not like such messes. He is concerned about the latest UN intervention in Libya, led by the UK and France.

"I thought at the time it was the right thing to do. It was much better supported legally than Iraq. These things are justified if they work. Military invention that fails is stupid. This has not failed but it has not yet reached a good conclusion. It is in limbo," he says.

Hurd, whose second wife, Judy, died from leukemia nearly three years ago, still enjoys Chinese aspects of life.

"I am still very fond of Chinese food. I got that liking in Beijing. I sometimes drop into a good Chinese restaurant in Burford (near Hurd's Oxfordshire country home) and they recognize me and know me. I can still use chopsticks. I haven't lost that skill," he says.


Douglas Hurd

(Lord Hurd of Westwell)

Former British foreign secretary and author

Age: 81


Eton College

Trinity College, Cambridge (first class degree in history)


Diplomatic service, including time spent at the British Legation in Beijing in the mid-1950s

Political secretary to former British prime minister Edward Heath

Northern Ireland secretary, 1984-1985

Home secretary, 1985-1989

Foreign secretary, 1989-1995

Book: "I read a lot of history and have just read On China by Henry Kissinger which I thought was very good."

Cinema: "I am not a great cinemagoer, since in the evening I tend to be quite active in the House of Lords or with friends."

Food: North Chinese food. Peking Duck is a "superb invention".

Music: George Frederic Handel. "There is a large amount of his music never performed. He is underrated and a great composer."


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