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Philip Watson studied Chinese at Oxford and London, worked in the Painting and Calligraphy department of the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, and was briefly a lecturer in Chinese at Edinburgh University, before joining the British diplomatic service. His career, which included postings in Beijing and Hong Kong, culminated in responsibility for Asia, the Americas and Australasia. He was appointed CMG in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1999. Watson's current interest is translation from Classical Chinese of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.