"If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers," Dickens wrote, envisaging the 'bad people' as the lawyer's clients no doubt, rather than the government. Yet in China nearly 200 lawyers have been rounded up and hauled in for questioning over the last week in an unprecedented crackdown on the profession.
Confinement is an ancient tradition that is still widely practiced in China today. Dating back to the Xihan dynasty some 2000 years ago, confinement literally means in Mandarin "sitting out the month". In practice, it's a set of very complex rules for women to care for themselves during the first month after giving birth.
Beijing has written a bill which, if passed, will allow Hong Kongers to vote for their own leader in 2017 - as long as the Communist party approves of the three candidates put forward. Hong Kong, gloriously and rightfully autonomous since it's release from Britain in the late nineties, was promised 50 years of making their own choices and rules. This bill undermines that promise.
If you're a traveller looking for something that takes a richer and more longitudinal approach; a business person or civil servant looking for insight beyond the usual Dos, Don'ts, honorifics, platitudes and rituals; a student of the humanities and social sciences wanting something more grounded in the world today; or a seasoned dinner party socialite and pub quiz pro looking for a global Zeitgeist to boost your social capital - then this is definitely the book for you. There's plenty to learn, it sinks in easily, and this is the sort of book that you'll find yourself marking-up and folding page corners on.