Jean-Marie Le Pen is the historical chief of extreme right-wing politics in France. Members of his National Front believe in the so-called "French preference" concept, meaning roughly that foreigners should not be allowed to reside and work within the sacred territory of Joan of Arc.
As an Antipodean outsider who has now acquired French nationality, I don't wish to dwell upon the nasty beliefs of this political old-timer who succeeded in shaking the foundations of the French Republic in the presidential elections of 2002, when he knocked out the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin and found himself up against Jacques Chirac in the final sprint. Fortunately for France, since that ephemeral moment of glory, Le Pen's supporters have been dwindling away towards zero. But the archaic 80-year-old wolf is still alive and kicking, and he seizes every opportunity of baring his teeth, either in smiles or in snarls.
Confronted with the problem of reimbursing financial debts brought about by their political failures, Le Pen and his party have been obliged to sell off their worldly possessions, including their home base in a posh suburb of Paris.
An old photo reveals that this place is not exactly pretty... but neither are the ideas of Le Pen and his FN party. In view of its dimensions, this building has always been referred to fondly, by party members, as the Paquebot (ocean liner).
Le Pen's Titanic has just found an unexpected purchaser: China. A Shanghai university wants to acquire the property for an extension school enabling Chinese students to master French. Why not? Once upon a time, Le Pen might have been horrified by the idea that a Communist nation might acquire his ocean liner on the outskirts of Paris and exploit it as a base for invading France. Since the opening of the Games, everybody knows that China has changed. They've left silly old Mao out on a ledge, to be forgotten in the future. Why shouldn't modern China purchase an extreme right-wing holy of holies? They've moved back towards Confucius... who said: War doesn't decide who's right. War decides who's left.