Calling China. Politics For A Change.

One of the skills I am most proud of, in addition to cooking a great beef casserole and being able to walk round the room with no less than three vols. of the Encyclopaedia Britannica balanced on my head, is that of wrapping a really safe parcel. When I pack books they arrive at their new home in the same condition as they left me. Talk all you like about erudite cataloguing, Napoleonic bravery outbidding someone at an auction, or silky salesmanship, but it all goes for nothing if you cannot pack the most delicate books, of oddly assorted shapes and sizes, so that they are safely delivered. You can drop my parcels in the sea (someone tried it), stand on them or balance them on edge and then pile a van full of 10 kg parcels on top of them: they will still be O.K.
Over the years I have sent thousands of books to different addresses, and last night I was thinking about the pattern these new homes for my books would make, if they were little lights on the surface of a globe. England would have a bright even glow, with some strong concentrations next door in Ireland where several dozen lights merge at some addresses. Continental Europe would be pretty well covered, with a good few outposts of light in Scandinavia. Going east the bright spots would be more spaced out, but march on determinedly far into Russia. (Although one Russian customer who made a very handsome purchase at my shop did not need my parcelling skills. He called into the shop three heavily built men, who each picked-up a pile of books and followed their master out of the door.)
North America would be bright with Hiltonlights, a whole constellation along the east coast alone, and the rest of the globe would be liberally dotted with stars. But there would be one area of utter darkness: China.
I have sent many books to Japan and other Asian counties, including Hong Kong, but none to mainland China. Not one of its 1.3 billion inhabitants, many wealthy and highly educated, has ordered a book from me; and I think that this is a problem for Her Majesties Government as well as your humble servant. Because, like everyone, I buy goods made in China and many more things with components made in China; yet how many of us are selling anything back to China? This cannot be healthy for our distressed and sickening economy.
Western Governments have to make it clear to the Chinese leadership that trade is a two way street and that governments cannot pick and chose which parts of globalisation are available to their citizens and a sure sign that this has been achieved will be when the Chinese are scouring ABE books and EBay for those elusive books, like you and I.
David Cameron call President Obama and get weaving.