William Hamilton-Dalrymple

Pass the Sikh Back, Sarah

Chinese Characters

By

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The Chinese view of the West came sharply into focus for me when at a railway station in Xinjiang I was shown an English language textbook by a student I had befriended. The booklet was entitled A Survey of Great Britain and its findings included the following: the five biggest mass organisations in this country are the TUC, the CBI, the NUS, CND, and the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding; to send a boy to public school costs ‘very much – about £90’; the Conservative and Labour parties both represent the landowning classes. London, apparently is a city beset by pollution problems. These are due, it says, to a combination of marsh mists sweeping in from the east and ‘the citizen’s love of open smoke fires’, the combination of which means that he can seldom see a yard in front of him.

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