Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 3:36am

This is one place where you don't mention the Diaoyus

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

From time to time we are invited to diplomatic cocktail parties, usually to celebrate national day or the sovereign's birthday. These are usually polite convivial occasions which include diplomats, government officials, prominent nationals, and a sprinkling of local business people and minor tycoons. While generally agreeable, they don't stand out as must-go-to events.

However, there is one of these functions coming up shortly, which may be more interesting than your average diplomatic party. This is being hosted by the consul-general of Japan, Yuji Kumamaru, to celebrate the birthday of his majesty the Emperor of Japan.

It is normal at these functions for the Hong Kong government to send a senior minister or even the chief executive to attend, as Donald Tsang Yam-kuen did several years ago. Given the recent tensions between Japan and the mainland over the Diaoyu Islands or the Senkakus as Japan calls them, we thought it would be interesting to see how the Hong Kong government intends to play this. Our chief executive CY Leung appears to have sidestepped this one, and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has drawn the short straw to make the customary government speech.

This usually starts with general pleasantries, a joke even, followed by polite praise of a recent achievement by the country in question, discussion of trade and warm words for future relations, and a toast. Will Tsang mention the island word? We couldn't help wondering if it would be considered an ''unpatriotic act'' to turn up to this. Will attendance be interpreted as support for the Japanese position? So far we are unaware of official "guidance" on this. Either way the function is likely to attract a higher level of interest than most diplomatic functions

Royal paint job

It is not often we get to meet royalty in our line of work, not even a minor royal. So you can imagine the thrill when we received an invitation from luxury real estate agents Engel & Völkers, that held out the possibility of such a meeting. But sadly, rather like those mail order advertisements that offer a special discount to the first 10 applicants, the "exclusive" interview is only being offered to "early media responses and requests". It's rather like order now while stocks last. Anyway the royal in question is no less a personage than Princess Bettina Wittgenstein, who is head of Global Corporate Communications for Engel & Völkers. The reason she is gracing our shores, we are told, is to illuminate "a celebration ceremony to paint the store front red as a symbol of the global real estate group's shift towards Asia …"

Not to be missed.

National Education?

Good to see that it's never too young to start one's political education. The website Shanghaiist has an interesting tale of a mainland kindergarten which incorporated military style games into its parent-child sports day. The children, some as young as four, according to the site, played "defend the Diaoyu Islands".

Dressed in fatigues and carrying plastic guns, the children had to find their way through a number of obstacles before planting a mainland flag on a model of the disputed island chain. Sounds great fun. This is clearly something we in Hong Kong could consider should national education ever be considered for children at kindergarten age, or indeed even older.

What about the turkey?

Today is the US Thanksgiving holiday. Although it is a US holiday, various organisations use it as an opportunity to entertain clients or even the press. The centrepiece of any Thanksgiving meal is generally roast turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

It's not normally something we celebrate, but we were nevertheless delighted to be invited by China Resources Enterprise to a thanksgiving media lunch which is actually tomorrow, but that's okay. But we were a little surprised by the food on offer. Instead of turkey we are being treated to hairy crabs.

Life in the limelight

We saw this cheery note on Twitter yesterday. "Now that UBS has put the Adoboli rogue trading scandal behind it, it can now turn its attention to preparing itself for the Libor scandal."

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