Candidate Profile

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Politics & Current Affairs
World Affairs
Nigel Cox is a former British diplomat with extensive Asian expertise. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. In 1976, just after the death of Chairman Mao, he started two years’ training in Mandarin Chinese, in Cambridge and Hong Kong. He spent a total of eight years at the British Embassy in Beijing, including from 2000 to 2002 as deputy to the Ambassador, in the rank of Minister and Consul-General. He was then appointed Director Asia-Pacific, responsible for UK relations with the whole region from Myanmar to Japan and from Mongolia to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands. He had previously served as Head of the South East Asian Department. Earlier he had spent six years in Paris.

After a year’s secondment to business (the P&O Group and AstraZeneca), Nigel left the Diplomatic Service and worked as a consultant on power generation investment openings in Vietnam. From 2009 to 2013 he was Clerk to one of London’s ancient guilds, the Fishmongers’ Company. He now works part-time in the Foreign Office Archives, advising on whether redactions are required before files are released to the public. He also undertakes voluntary work, including with English Heritage as a guide at Apsley House (The Wellington Museum) in London.

He has published articles and reviews, including in the quarterly “Asian Affairs”, and recently contributed five chapters to “Brave Lives”, an account of members of the Travellers Club in London who were killed in the First World War.

Reigning in the Land of Smiles: the Thai Monarchy today - the King and Who?
In 2019 a new Thai King was crowned, with solemn Hindu/Buddhist ceremonies. He succeeded the revered King Bhumiphol who reigned for 58 years. Within Thailand frank discussion of the monarchy is barred by strict laws of “lèse majesté”. While we are in international waters, Nigel will introduce the history of the Thai monarchy and assess its political role in recent times as well as the colourful background of King Rama X.

Running Amok: Modern Malaysian Politics.
In 2018 a 92-year old former Prime Minister was re-elected, pledged to hand power over to the deputy he had dismissed and imprisoned in 1998. His predecessor was charged with embezzling US $4.5 billion, and his wife, the owner of 500 designer handbags, is accused of involvement in the murder of a Mongolian model. Nigel will explore the colourful course of Malaysian politics and their historical background.

Migrants from the Celestial Empire: The Overseas Chinese in South East Asia.
Nigel will review the history of Chinese emigration to South East Asia and the development of successful and prosperous Overseas Chinese communities, often in the face of persecution or discrimination. He will highlight the diversity of the Overseas Chinese today and their continuing vital economic role and discuss their contribution to China’s economic rise and the implications of that rise.

Going Out with A Bang: A Viceroy’s Trip to the Andaman Islands; and Other Ill-Fated British Governors.
In 1872 the Earl of Mayo, Viceroy of India, was assassinated in the Andaman Islands. Nigel looks at that event and its background, as well as the assassination of other British colonial governors from the 17th to the 20th century and from Bermuda to Hong Kong, offering some unusual insights into the complex history of the British Empire.

A Test of Characters? Learning Mandarin Chinese and the Chinese Language Today.
Nigel will share his personal experience of studying Mandarin Chinese, some of its difficulties and rewards. He will also give an overview of the modern development of the language, including the move from cumbersome Chinese typewriters to today’s high-speed computer technology.

Sailing Through The Sands – the Story of the Suez Canal.
2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal by the Empress Eugenie of France. Nigel tells the stories of the Empress and the Opening Ceremonies. He traces the Canal’s background, explains how It became a cornerstone of Britain’s global power, until in 1956 an Anglo-French operation to “protect” it ended in fiasco and development. He will also review the recent expansion of the Canal.

Tea for Two? From the Chinese Empire to the British.
The long history of tea is the subject of many myths as well as some surprising facts. Nigel will try to disentangle the facts from the myths, with a particular focus on how China and Britain interacted to make tea the world’s favourite beverage – with the help of a US invention of the early
20th century.Art,

Sense & Nonsense in the Holy Land: the Travels of Edward Lear.
Edward Lear (1812-1888?) is now probably best remembered for his humorous limericks and other verse, but he was also a talented painter of birds and landscapes, invited by Queen Victoria to give him drawing lessons. Nigel discusses his life and work, particularly his travels to Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and India.

Making China Great Again?
1500 years ago Persian and Arab traders were already bringing Chinese silk and porcelains to their countries and to the Mediterranean. Chinese mariners followed and in the 15th century great treasure fleets reached Red Sea and Persian Gulf ports, taking home priceless “tribute” to the Ming Emperors. But soon after China banned foreign travel. Nigel will explore the history of Chinese seafaring and assess the implications of its recent return to the Indian Ocean.

Send Us Victorias? Toppling the Mighty from their Seats.
From King George III in Battery Park in 1776 to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 2005, people have often enjoyed demolishing the statues of deposed or unpopular rulers. Queen Victoria never travelled outside Europe, but many statues of her were sent to India and elsewhere in Asia (including Aden in the Yemen). Nigel will look at how these reminders of the British Empire fared after independence and more recently.

Banishing the Vanquished: Some Imperial Exiles
Once Napoleon was exiled to St Helena he stopped causing wars in Europe. The British banished many other troublesome potentates far from the lands they had ruled. Nigel will trace the stories of some of the more colourful, including the last Moghul Emperor of India, sent to Burma; Kings of Ceylon and Burma sent to India; and a Malay Sultan, a later Egyptian Prime Minister and, most recently, a Greek Cypriot Archbishop sent to the Seychelles.

The Story of Coffee.
The beverage with the world’s fastest growing consumption today originated in Ethiopia and soon crossed the Red Sea to the Yemen, from where it spread to Europe and the world. Nigel will explore the history.

With All Due Respect: Courtesy or Kowtow? Dilemmas in Diplomatic Etiquette.
Foreign travellers have not always found it easy to follow the principle of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Not everyone shares the Arab taste for sheeps’ eyes. Nigel looks at how protocol issues sometimes became major cultural clashes, notably over the Chinese Kowtow, when foreign Ambassadors were required to prostrate themselves to the Emperor, and the Great Burmese (Myanmar) Shoe Controversies.

Seas of Tranquillity? The Malacca Strait and China’s Maritime Strategy.
The Malacca Strait has huge global economic importance. Nigel will give some historical background before assessing the prospects for regional security and stability in the context of China’s territorial claims and its rapidly growing economic influence and naval strength. He will try to answer the question, what does China want?

Mountbatten in Ceylon: When Kandy was the Headquarters of the Allied Struggle against Japan in South East Asia.
In 1944 Lord Louis Mountbatten was appointed Allied Supreme Commander, South East Asia in 1944. He soon decided to establish his headquarters at Kandy in what is now Sri Lanka. Nigel will look at the planning, organisation and atmosphere in Kandy and at Mountbatten’s leadership of the Command from the Burma campaign until he took the Japanese surrender in Singapore in September 1945.

In Quest of a Giraffe? The Chinese Maritime Explorers of the 15th Century.
A history of Chinese seafaring, culminating in the great expeditions of Treasure Ships sent out by the early Ming Emperors; their objectives and achievements, and the strange closing of China’s doors which followed them.

Joining the Dots: Links to the British Indian Ocean Islands by Passenger Liner and Airlines.
A review of 20th century passenger travel from Mauritius and the Seychelles to Europe, East and South Africa, India and beyond: the heyday of the British India Line and other ocean liners; the arrival and development of air links; and the changing style of air travel.

Not Just Reunion: France’s Indian Ocean Empire.
How France almost became the predominant European power in India, and the stepping stones it occupied on the way there; its loss of Mauritius, the Seychelles and more recently Madagascar; and why the tricolour still flies over the Departments of Reunion and Mayotte.
Voyages to Antiquity:

AEG190126: Beyond Burma and the Malay Peninsula: 23 January - 11 February 2019
(Singapore, Malacca, Penang, Phuket, Yangon, Port Blair, Colombo)

AEG190211: Islands of the Indian Oceans and South Africa: 11 February - 14 March 2019
(Colombo, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town)
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Orion OR190920 Far East Discovery 14 Hong Kong Friday, September 20, 2019