When Mandelson appears in the middle of landlocked rural China supporting the construction of a replica of the Titanic there, you just know the Chinese economic boom is coming to an end. We've been here before of course; Herzog's 'Fitzcarraldo' told the story of an Irishman who moved a paddle steamer over a mountain during the nineteeenth century rubber boom, and in the middle of the Brazilian jungle stands an opera house as pink and pretty as a wedding cake and that would not disgrace Budapest or Prague. It was also built during the rubber boom, before we Brits undercut the Brazilian rubber industry with our managed plantations in Malaysia.
Anyway, the point is that Mandelson is one of those birds of bad omen, carrying with him a cloud of despond, a black feng-shui wrap of misery and failure. If the Chinese had any sense at all they would never have allowed him to enter the country. His presence in China signals more clearly than anything else that the Chinese boom is coming to an end.
It is rumoured that Lord Mandelson will next offer his unique services to the European Union …