Page 1

But Levin, even in those days, was

Latin Fartvell

Even typhoon Pegged failed to dampen top China-watcher and US ConsulGeneral Burton Levin's thoroughly entertaining valedictory speech at the FCC on July 11. And the storm also failed to cool his ardour for the AIISJ journalist (who will remain nameless) who was offered a private answer to her question on Taiwan al2am - at her place of course. Refusing to discuss never-ending textiles issues - "as I'm not a man of the cloth," Levin described his introduction to things Chinese. He studied international affairs (including China) at Columbia where the classical Sinologists, who ruled the aca-

demic roost, considered that nothing that occurred after the Tâng dynasty (about 600 AD) was worth studying. As a result, the young Levin arrived

at his first foreign posting in Taiwan well-schooled in classical Chinese and totally unable to ask for the men's room. He managed to meet.his future wife though.

From Taiwan, his career went on to span Indonesia, Thailand and a total

bullish on China. despatch

China (Taiwan) desk and later the Asian Communist Affairs (PRC) desk.

He also peppered the time with forays into academia, fĂŹrst at Harvard and later for a year at Stanford as a visiting fellow - "it took me a year to figure out what a visiting fellow was supposed

to do."


posting to Bolivia when Henry Kissinger






to turn US foreign service




Washington which stated

that future co-operation was on

of l0 years in Hong Kong interspersed with two more spells in Taiwan and several respites in Washington on the

Levin also managed to avoid



as happened a few years later."

After another whirl on the foreign service merry-go-round to Taiwan and Washington, Levin returned to Hong Kong for a tour that was interrupted by a posting to Bangkok, just two weeks before the Vietnamese marched into Cambodia. Three years and the occasional coup later, he was back in Hong Kong for this final tour. Arriving in late 1982 just as the 1997 question began to loom, Levin was

thrust into the limelight. He hadn't banked on Hong Kong suddenly making

specialists into generalists. It was 1965 when Levin got his first real taste of Hong Kong - although he

the headlines world-wide. But he has done his bit. He was the first to assure future BNOC pSssport holders the US will recognise their

earlier, courtesy of the US Navy. "Never

documentation. And true to form, he's still optimistic about Hong Kong - even afĂžr 199'/ . "China has left it alone for all this time - they are realistic. On the foreign policy side, China has behaved very well. "I couldn't see the US behaving this way if the Brits had retained a sliver of the US after the (American) revolution."

had made a brief visit here 10 years sail between Taiwan February."

in Hong Kong in

But Hong Kong itself didn't impinge much on Levin - he spent all his four years here watching China - and the cultural revolution. "'We knew it was bad, but didn't knowjust how bad until China opened

up again."

He also pointed to how important Hong Kong had become to American business. The US is more economically involved than Britain is in Hong Kong, he said, The US provides 430/o of the foreign investment here as compared to the UK's 6010. Therefore it is not surprising that Americans now outnumber Britons in Hong Kong. And he revealed there is another reason for the US expansion in Hong Kong: American women now only carry their young for five months.

Change at the top


Peter Cordingley has accepted an invitation to join the Board as a journalist member governor to replace Sarah Monks who, having resigned from the SCM Post, remains a co-opted governor.

Membership revisited

changes to an associate member category job, NO EXTRA PAYMENT is

required from them, notwithstanding


special committee of the Board of Governors is looking into better and more effective ways of ensuring members are in the correct category: Correspondent, Journalist or Associate.


new membership list will


published this year and one task faced by the committee


chaired by first vice president, Michael Malik, with correspondent member Chris Pritchett and associate member Tim Williams - is to vet the current list.

the higher joining fees for associates. Reclassification will only affect their voting status. It may also not be widely enough appreciated that in the Club's Articles of Association, it is clearly stated in rule




member shall notify the



membership should


In other words, the onus is




to let the Club know of

will be given at least 14 days notice in writing of its intention to review that member's classifìcation. The member is also entitled to appear before the Board

Some used spare

in the house I rented which was also the for HQ

Clare Chernaull

and many of the Flying Tigers. Durdin would send my houseboy

and seconders to assure the


that the candidate is correctþ classifìed.


Michael Malk.

of Britain's finest

collections of

f,150,000 debts. The club, housed on a floor

ofthe London International Press Centre Building near Fleet Street, has been


Chinese restaurant. I made many of those lunches until



The collection was part of the London Press Club's library and will be auctioned in August to pay off its

early in 1938. The Club was started by a group of journalists who were fed up with the standard of food on offer. pat writes: "They hired a Chinese cook who

all of them were well known journalists.

In this wa¡ if any questions

when the application is being considered, it may be up to the introducer


- it actually began in Hangkow



cluding original Caxton sheets could leave the (UK) after being seized by

Pat pointed out the FCC preceded


application form. When the new forms are approved and printed, the introducer of a candidate for membership will be required to state which category the applicant deserves. This will also apply to the two


dore White, sparked off some memories



even when they are not entitled to, in order to beneht from the lower joining

newspapers and associated material in-

for FCC Life Member Pat Patterson.

One of pilme movers called Durdin

for correspondent or journalist

Salutary story

The June issue's report about the sad death of former Club president, Theo-



change in status rather than waiting for

For the record

we moved to Chungking later in 1938. There the lunches continued only they were run by Mr Liao who retired only recently from the Club - in 1919 or

Of course it is more important to classify members correctly in the first place - when they join. It is inevitable, if regrettable, that many people apply

This causes constant problems for the board and the committee is hoping to alleviate them by redesigning the

meeting that the member concerned

in a room in



ing, of any changes.

arranged luncheons


affect his (her) membership classif,rcation, whereupon the board shall meet to decide whether a member's classi-

someone to ask.them. The rule book continues that if the Board decides, of its own violition,to hold a reclassification


thinks fit.

Board of any circumstances which may

Members should have received a slip stating their present category plus other details such as their address etc. Please check the information and inform Club Steward Julia Suen, in writThere does seem to be some confusion over re-classifìcation and it is perhaps not widely realised that if a correspondent or .journalist member

at the reclassifìcation meeting and make

such reþresentations ás he

plagued by financial problems for years. Last month the LIPC, a subsidiary company of the Norwich Union Insurance Group, lost patience and sent in the

bailiffs. Pat Patrerson

out every morning to get his daily consumption of beer. I used to hear his typewriter going for several hours, then finished, he would send my houseboy out to the cable ofhce with his daily report - often the most vivid eye-witness description ofa battle scene. Then there was silence until the next morning and the next beer order. I am sorry but my memory for names is non-existent. I don't know when the group named the lunches the Foreign Correspondents' Club because I left Chungking is the falt of 1939-40.

The club's vice-president, Terrance


said: "A group of people who had hired the Churchill Room were about to start lunch when the bailiffs entered and began taking pictures and trophies off the walls." The bailiffs then proceeded to the club's library and as the librarian, Alec Harrison, looked on in horror, they packed up a collection of British newspapefs spanning 300 years.

Peter Hutchins, director



London International Press Centre and the club's "landlord", said his company had waived f200,000 in rent since 1976. - SUNDAY TIMES 15 June '86.



The FCC's beer-generated profìts, which came under threat a few weeks ago, aÍe

For the 56 staff at Interasia, many of them stalwarts of the FCC and who, in their spare time, are responsible for Business Traveller, Asian Trayel Trade and Asian Oil and Gas, wtll remain in work and in Hong Kong after all.

A recent change in ownership had threatened to upset the apple cart. Singaporean publisher Guy Goh obtained a controlling interest in the company and for a short while, a move to the Island Republic was on the cards. Reports like this proved upsetting; None of them fancied Singapore (for all the obvious reasons but also because

there is no real FCC down there) but there was no guarantee they would be offered jobs anyway. The gory details were thus: Adrian Zecha, who owned 500/o of Interasia and 500/o

of Goh's company, Pacom, sold his

Interasia stake to Pacom in mid-June. This was enough, apparently, to give Goh the controlling interest, although the remaining 500/o of Interasia is held

by Thomas International Publishing. Goh, who is well known for being an aggressive media rep and who puts out a monthly motoring magazine and quarterly supplements on boating, was thought to be serious about shifting the whole business to his home town. So for a while, unemployment and mounting FCC bills stared the Interasia

staffers in the face.

Luckily though, Hong Kong won out. So for the time being anyway the FCC's beer sales are safe.



Pity Bangkok's corps of foreign correspondents. Thailand's foreign pressmen (and women) were invited, nay begged, by the country's tourism authority to come along on a four-day jolly to Phuket - all expenses paid.

Evidentl¡ the Thais wanted to

convince the world that Phuket was now


Give me the moonlight

But fate intervened. The days in question, July 20-24 to be precise, fell smack bang in the middle of the runup to the Thai election and every good journalist had to be in Bangkok for the big event. They had to refuse a freebie. The life ofa foreign correspondent

One of the ironies of the Hong Kong press today is that TV & Entertainment Times, which usually keeps us abreast

of the inside dirt, is completely silent on all the comings and goings in year zero down there at the Undemocratic


r¡'anl lo rh,lreL -'

Republic of Quarry Bay. What does a fearless editor like Peter ("call me Governor") Cordingley do when so many suitable items for his notorious The Last Word are brewing right down there in the Undernocratic

is a tough one.

Peking Morning Post While senior editorial management at the South China Morning Post are con-


fidentþ denying yet another crop of

Same as you chum. He keeps mum.

And if you wondered why Cordingley's diminutive Canadian friend, Ann Quon, has disappeared from your ATV screens, it's because Digger "once a week" minor has barred any of his Sunday Post team from such moonlighting.

Another major casualty of this ruling is Ulster's own Robin parke, who

rumours about a Rupert Murdoch takeover, nobody has yet denied that Peking's CITIC is interested.

now has to decide whether he would rather mislead us about the

Sunday worker

"English football hypocrisy"

"What did you think of the long-awaited Sunday Post's The Guide?" "Frankl¡ I found it rather too Course."



World Cup or the likely winner of race three at Happy Valley.

Pool table for

Identity pørøde

sale The Club has rePlaced the small pooltable in the downstairs

bar with

a new,

full-sized tabte.

NICK BEACROFT Pictured here are five beauties all of whom are willing and available to any-

$4,000. Contact Juila Suen, Club

one wanting to air their complaints, suggestions and, heaven forbid, even

Steward for further details.


compliments about Club facilities. The instantly-recognisable famous Iwe make up the FCC MembershiP

Liaison Committee which is designed to provide a link between members and the Main Board. Says Committee Chairman Paul Smurthwaite, (the murderous looking one with the glasses) "We decided to change previous policy which dictated that complaints or suggestions could only be received in writing.

New Members We'd like to extend a warm welcome to the following nelY members:

June Kronholz Wall Street Joutnal

Brian Barron

"Members can now feel free to approach us at anY time in the Club, although people who prefer to commit their thoughts on paper can continue to use the suggestion box alongside the notice-board in the main bar."


Nicola Pazdzierski Ft eel ance

Robin Moyer Time

Paul Bailey Readet's Digest

Keith Miller

f{ew Orleans night

NBC News

David Jones UPI

wøshed out The typhoon proved too much for rhythm and the Victoria riverboat the Jazz Band. The seafood gumbo, cayjin

Derek Sadler Henry Butchet Dotninion

Eric Yung Wing Ho

cookies and jambalaya were postponed.

Show Magazine

Catherine Kelly Hill & Knowlton

Jeremy Harris



Bengt DelarYd

Editor: Diane Stormont.

AB InYeslot

Tel:5-408925 Liaison: Gavin Greenwood.

David Harris Cowatd Chonce

Tel: 5-8436363

Paul Turner Coward Chonce

Printer: Ad-Asia, Worldwide

Olav Smit

Commercial Building, 34 Wyndham St., Central. Tel:5-8936688.

B. van Zuiden Btos

Jane Bates

Deloitte Haskins & Sells

Contributions welcomed!

Please sugitems, newsY deposit articles, gestions etc in The CorresPondent

Leo Lee Tung Hai Tung Tai Gtoup

Wolfgang Rohde Co m m e rzbct n

Putting in together


A kt

i e




pigeon-hole near the entrance to the main bar.

Stephen Dowdler Potash & PhosPhate hlslitute


The Correspondent, July - August 1986  
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