So there I am, sandwiched between Georges Galloway and Monbiot (sounds positively Sheridanesque, Richard Brinsley, not the other guy) sending birthday greetings to the People's Republic of China on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show. They wanted it kept short, around a minute, and in the form of a birthday card with achievements, hopes and fears, etc.
You can listen for seven days here. Scroll halfway along, it's an hour in.
For those unable to tune in, here's mine.
Happy Birthday, China
Happy 60th birthday, People’s Republic of China. Only another twelve years and you’ll have lasted longer than your Big Brother, the Soviet Union.
Well done. You used to be a decrepit old famine-ridden imperial order, the punchbag of every colonial bully, forcing you to take their opium and biting off chunks of you willy-nilly. But now you’re set to become the world’s Number One superpower. Talk about going from a 10 stone weakling to Charles Atlas. See what a good diet can do for you?
But watch out you don’t go down the same road that they did and DON’T forget your socialist beginnings. The creation of 6,000 billionaires in a decade — mostly the children of the state bureaucrats who once ran the public assets now owned by the Little Emperors — is NOT a good sign. I hope you’re keeping tabs on that.
They say you’re the biggest polluter in the world but you’re still less per capita than the US and other G8 economies. And we invented the Industrial Revolution, after all, belching out carbon emissions for 160 years with no let-up in sight.
So quit smoking or at least change to filter tips. Show the world you have the will, the ingenuity and the means to triumph where we’ve failed, and shame us all into catching up.
A last word — it’ s no good sticking your fingers in your ears and going “La, la, la, la, la, can’t hear you,” whenever anyone tells something you don’t want to hear. It’s not big and it’s not clever.
With 4,000 years of civilisation behind you and a good dose of enlightenment philosophers like Marx to pep you up, we expect you to be the ideal synthesis of all that’s best in World thought.
Don’t let us down. And I hope you’ll be kinder to us than we were to you.
Many happy returns.