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Charles and China

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There has been much speculation as to why Prince Charles snubbed the dinner hosted by Chinese president Jiang Zemin last week. Probably not because the embassy lies opposite the RIBA, once castigated by the prince as a bastion of the forces of Modernity. Possibly because the embassy itself offends his new softer image: erstwhile Modernist and CP member Colin Penn designed it as an exact replica of what was there before (give or take a few aerials).

Probably because what has previously been his sole undisputed territory, architecture, was something his mother discussed in her speech earlier in the week at Buckingham Palace, suggesting that, along with art, it had a part to play alongside trade in relationships between the two countries.

Meanwhile Sino-Australian relations may have taken a step backwards last week, with the cancellation of a talk at the RIBA on Thursday by young Australian practice Proto_type. The reason for the cancellation? The police insisted RIBA HQ should shut at 6pm because of demonstrators attempting to reach the Chinese embassy opposite in protest at the presidential visit.

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