SHAUN CONNOLLY: Enda craves sweet Chinese takeaway

The state banquet in his honour was more than lavish, but still Enda craved the Chinese takeaway of his dreams.

He wanted Beijing to take away Ireland’s state assets and also its bailout shame by buying our bonds and allowing us to be a nation once again at the mercy of the casino money markets.

Mr Kenny denied he soft peddled on human rights every time the whiff of Chinese money was in the air, but the clear impression was: Why make a fuss with those nice old men in the politburo about Tibet when they are so eager to bet on our bonds?

And it looked like the Chinese would do anything to keep Mr Kenny sweet as even his papaya and snow pear compote was especially coloured green, white and orange at the banquet — while his hosts deployed no less than nine body guards for his protection at all times.

Among the heavies was one eagle-eyed fellow, conspicuous for carrying a small black leather briefcase which he was capable of opening in nanoseconds with one hand while wielding the gun inside with the other.

Not withstanding the fact that grabbing one of his arms would probably have put paid to the whole, rather elaborate, operation, it never seemed as if Enda was in much danger during his extensive tour of the Forbidden City.

The only slightly perilous moment came when the guide started telling him about the set-up that existed between the emperor, his wife, and his many concubines — but thankfully the story was light on detail so the Taoiseach was spared an episode of Sex And The Forbidden City.

But did the spirits of the emperors walk with him as he followed in their footsteps? He certainly adopted the royal “we” for the visitors book when he declared how impressed “we” were with the treatment “we” had received, but maybe domestic politics featured as well — did he ponder that if he had imposed his little household flat rate tax during the Ming dynasty the owner of the sprawling and sumptuous Forbidden City would have had to pay the same 100 quid charge as the peasants in the hovels below?

But if Enda was troubled by the backbiting at home over his levy, he could find solace at the Palace of Heavenly Purity where the emperor, representing Yang and the Heavens, would reside while the empress representing Yin and the Earth, would occupy the Palace of Earthly Tranquility.

In between them in the Hall of Union was where Yin and Yang mixed to produce harmony.

Maybe Enda made a mental note to bring his cabinet drama queens Big Phil and GI Joan back here with him next time to try and get some coalition unity on the levy.

But then past the Hall of Mental Cultivation and the Gate of Divine Might and Enda’s blacked-out motorcade sped off to the Great Hall of the People.

There, under the enormous chandeliers, past the lavishly decorated walls and through the giant Ming dynasty vases, Enda climbed a podium to hear a rendition of the national anthem played by the guard of honour of the three services of the People’s Liberation Army, which he said made his heart swell with pride.

The imposing Stalinist-era grandeur of the Great Hall of the People was the suitably symbolic setting for his audience with the outgoing Red Emperor, Wen Jiabao — the man who is master of 23% of the world’s population — whether they want him as master or not.

As the tricolour outside the Forbidden City fluttered to obscure the giant portrait of Chairman Mao, Enda’s motorcade swept past a Tiananmen Square which was as covered in the shadows of dusk as it had once been awash with blood at the hands of the People’s Liberation Army.

Enda had been lauded as the Green Emperor by his hosts but knows he must now return home to the politics of austerity and anger as the deadline for the household tax fiasco looms and he faces his very own Great Maul of the People.


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