“One of the greatest disasters ever to befall European civilisation”
I thought that I had blogged about this before, but I cannot find it, so I’ll do it again. Zhou Enlai did not say it was “too early to say” what impact the French Revolution had. In the Financial Times in June last year, Richard McGregor reported:
Zhou was not referring to the 1789 storming of the Bastille in a discussion with Richard Nixon during the late US president’s pioneering China visit. Zhou’s answer related to events only three years earlier – the 1968 students’ riots in Paris, according to Nixon’s interpreter at the time.
At a seminar in Washington to mark the publication of Henry Kissinger’s book, On China, Chas Freeman, a retired foreign service officer, sought to correct the long-standing error.
“I distinctly remember the exchange. There was a misunderstanding that was too delicious to invite correction,” said Mr Freeman.
He said Zhou had been confused when asked about the French Revolution and the Paris Commune. “But these were exactly the kinds of terms used by the students to describe what they were up to in 1968 and that is how Zhou understood them.”
I mention it because Jesse Norman, the Tory MP for Hereford who achieved a starring role in the rebellion against Lords reform on account of the Prime Minister having a “firm” word with him in the Lobby, said this earlier today:
Bastille Day today: effective start of the French Revolution in 1789, one of the greatest disasters ever to befall European civilisation.
I wondered if it were not too early for a true conservative to say.Tagged in: history, jesse norman, myths, zhou enlai
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