David McWilliams: In the mandarin v merchant debate, my money is on the merchants

Nphet and the hospitality industry are vying for the ear of the Government

Prof Philip Nolan, Chair of Nphet’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, at a Covid -19 update in September. The public health emergency team are the ultimate mandarins. Photograph: Collins

Prof Philip Nolan, Chair of Nphet’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, at a Covid -19 update in September. The public health emergency team are the ultimate mandarins. Photograph: Collins

One of the great mysteries in economic history is why large parts of Africa and Latin America do not speak Chinese but rather English, Spanish, Portuguese or French. 

In 1492, when three rudimentary Spanish vessels alighted in what is now the Dominican Republic, the Chinese navy dwarfed the combined sailing infrastructure of competing European kingdoms. Technologically, China was miles ahead of Europe, with gunpowder, watches, paper money and a whole host of other innovations, created and honed over centuries. These innovations beguiled Marco Polo. 

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