Three political advisors are shocked to discover the Chinese are seeking their advice.
Late at night in a first class lounge at Heathrow, Hector bumps into Danny. Both are annoyed as they have been forced to wear ties, which they usually refuse to do as an act of sartorial rebellion, to enter the lounge. The two Englishmen know each other, as they have served as Chief of Staff to rival British Party leaders. As they chat, it emerges that both are flying to Beijing.
While having a free aromatherapy massage, they meet Benedict, a former Chief Advisor to the American President, also furious at having to wear a tie. HECTOR and DANNY know BENEDICT, as he served as Chief Advisor to an American President. He too is flying to Beijing. They realise they have all been summoned by the Chinese government to advise on how to deal with the protests in Hong Kong.
In Beijing, it emerges that all three are great admirers of Mao - particularly his doctrine of permanent revolution. For these disruptors of government, he is “Chairman Now, Chairman Wow.” The men also seem pretty much to share the view, now old-fashioned in China, that Capitalism is entering its final crisis.
Next morning, the three political consultants meet the Director of Transition, the Chinese official responsible for enacting the doctrine of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong. As they debate various approaches to the Hong Kong problem, the Director is surprised by the radicalism of the western political experts’ attitudes to “taking back control”, and such concepts as unelected officials, parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, the sanctity of international treaties, the freedom of the press, the future of capitalism, and what should be done to “enemies of the system”.
To the Chinese, the three westerners seem to be dangerous revolutionaries. To Hector, Danny and Benedict, their hosts are cautious stalwarts of conventional establishment thinking. Which ideology will win?
Taking no sides, the drama explores the curious ironies of the rise of English Maoists and Chinese capitalists.
Written by Mark Lawson
Drama from BBC Radio 4