So the Health Secretary wants us to work like the Chinese. You could write a pretty long historical monologue on the idea of work as embodied in perceptions of the Chinese people, but it would probably come down to the two essential features of docility and endurance.
My word, those Chinese can work. They're not quite as far up the value chain as the Germans, but they're basically reliable, it's possible to manufacture them in much larger quantities and they need less fuel to keep going. And of course, when they're not simply beavering away the Chinese are starting businesses without the need to erect an enterprise culture to encourage them. Chinese business just spreads naturally over the landscape, like a kind of fungus.
It's the sort of thing that spreads a warm glow in the Tory heart and it maybe answers a question that's been puzzling a number of people, namely why is government policy towards China so openly and frankly obsequious. It may not come down to policy at all. The Tories look at China and they simply like what they see, or think they see.
Consider: everyone knows who is in charge in China. Yet while there are strict and well regulated heirarchies, there is always room at the top – and much more room for people who were born closer to the top. There are endless appeals to tradition, much of it invented, combined with an unashamed admiration for money and those who have it. Entrepreneurs enjoy a huge amount of latitude in their treatment of the human material they endow with the chance to gain self-respect and human stature through labour. At the same time the labouring classes can enjoy seemingly endless patriotic festivities that bring together rulers and ruled in shared love of country. Education is traditional. The armed forces are valorised. Charity is encouraged, while charities themselves 'stick to their knitting' as the saying goes. There is order, or there appears to be. Yes, the British government wants some of that, and wants it for the rest of us too. Lucky us.