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The country she knows

By Andrew Moody | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-03 08:01

Tessa Keswick with Beijing's Party Secretary Cai Qi.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"He (Zhu) said, 'Why on Earth aren't you investing here?' I think once Hong Kong was no longer a colony, but part of China, they rather welcomed foreigners more," she says.

She mentions in the book that her husband, now 81, prefers the company of Chinese people to British or Western.

"Well, I would say that he is very much at home with them. I said 'prefer' in the book but he likes English people, too," she adds, laughing. "I think basically I mean (he) respects (them) more for the very remarkable qualities they have."

Tessa Keswick began studying Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and then by staying with a family in Beijing. The family had been quite poor factory workers but were now living a relatively comfortable existence.

"I stayed with them many times. It is a wonderful language to learn. I think it's essential actually to take the trouble to learn something of the language, but I couldn't say I had any proficiency at all," she says.

Tessa Keswick has brought reminders of China back to her homes. On her honeymoon trip she brought back acorns from the Ming Tombs near the Great Wall for the garden in her country home in Wiltshire in South West England.

"The tree now is growing in the garden, but actually the climate is not right for it, because you need very, very cold winters and very hot summers for it to be happy. So it's not as happy as it should be. It was actually planted by (former UK prime minister) Mrs Thatcher three months before she left office," Tessa Keswick adds.

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