I expect the chaps at the FO are doing 24-hour shifts this month (not!) given the potential turbulence building up in foreign affairs. Tomorrow the German Court pronounces on Merkel's efforts at European tap-dancing. One looks to Supreme Courts for clear, straightforward rulings but as the American equivalent showed just recently they can be more slippery than the warranty contract from a second-hand car dealer! Whilst I would stand on the table and sing the German national anthem if they were to stamp their legal jackboots all over the current confection, I am not bothering to learn the words because I expect the usual pile of fudge.
Meanwhile, back East, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and their government are readying themselves for change at the very top. Needless to say, this is all done with absolute secrecy behind closed doors which used to work but, in this day and age of personal and global communications, does not anymore. For example, Xi Jinping, the man slated to be the next Party Secretary, has apparently gone missing, or at least, he has not been seen in public for a week or so and has cancelled various scheduled meetings with foreign visitors, including 'HillBilly'. Needless to say, the Chinese internet has gone viral with unsubstantiated rumours which have now been picked up by the western media.
I was struck by an item in Ferdinand Mount's superb book, Full Circle (of which, more later - you have been warned!), in which he describes the way in which the ancient Greeks and Romans used to call in the populace in their tens of thousands in order discuss and decide on political matters. Today, the internet is the equivalent of those forums and the CCP is floundering in its efforts to control it. Apart from anything else, the CCP have long suffered with a credibility problem given their lack of political 'legitimacy'. Corruption and misrule is rife throughout the regions, as the recent Bo Xilai affair demonstrated. Times are getting hard again in China due to the global economy and the Party is struggling to deal with it. Their banks are broke and several regional governments are getting out of control. There are factions within the CCP who yearn for a return to Mao-ism and they will do their best to whip up nationalism over Chinese claims to various islands in the South China Sea. One piece of information I picked up from those old 'Intel-hands' at 'NightWatch' was the incredible fact that a law was passed in 2005 which would inflict the death penalty on any Chinese leader who allowed any part of Chinese territory to be ceded - and that includes those islands that the Chinese think they own!
"Beware of interesting times" - now who said that? Oh yes, some Chinese chap!