Club Lunch: The Scottish Botanist Who Stole the Tea of China
Date: 27 Jan 2022 12:30 PM — 02:00 PM | Venue: Dining Room
The Scottish Botanist Who Stole the Tea of China
|Many call it the greatest theft in history: in the 1850s, a Mandarin-speaking Scottish botanist named Robert Fortune posed as a Chinese official and visited tea plantations and production centres banned to foreigners. He collected thousands of seeds, plants and cuttings, as well as production equipment, and shipped them to Calcutta, capital of British India. They were planted in the foothills of the Himalayas and enabled India to surpass China in tea production. He turned the British and Irish into tea addicts, from dukes and duchesses in stately homes to coal miners and textile workers. In this FCC lunchtime talk, Mark O’Neill will tell Fortune’s extraordinary story, with many historical images and ask the question: who is the thief of intellectual property? Moderated by Associate Governor Richard David Winter.
|Mark O’Neill was born in London, England and educated at Marlborough College and New College, Oxford. He worked in Washington, DC, Manchester and Belfast before coming to Hong Kong in 1978. He has lived in Asia ever since. He worked as a journalist for 30 years here, in Taiwan, India, the PRC and Japan, for Reuters, SCMP and many other publications. Since 2006, he has been writing books on Chinese history and society. Eight have editions in Chinese, simplified and traditional, as well as English.