Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The New China Central TV Buildings

This is a picture of the new China Central TV buildings - one of which was destroyed in a fire at the end of the Chinese New years in February. As the story goes, someone at CCTV authorized a spectacular fireworks show that did not have a permit from the local police. One of the rockets hit the building and destroyed it and it must now be replaced. The problem is that it sits on a foundation shared by the other building and replacing it may cause structural damage and possible collapse of the unharmed building. The director of CCTV was fired this weekend because of this.

Kogod Graduate Students - Nanjing Visit

From Wuxi it’s a two hour ride North to Nanjing, a major city on the Yangtze River. Here we visited the French Hypermarche Carrefour and got a reality check on the differences between Chinese supermarkets and those in the USA - big difference (by the way, you have to pay for your bags!) In terms of tourist sites, we visited the Sun Yat Sen mausoleum, the nanjing massacre memorial and the Yangtze River bridge. Sun Yat Sen was the founder of modern China in the sense that he was able to topple the last emperor and install a fledgling democracy in 1912…he is revered in the same sense that we in the US revere George Washington, in the case of Sun Yat Sen, however, democrat rule was not to last and his party, the Kuomintang collapsed under the pressure of communist opposition led by Mao in 1946 - 1949…it is interesting in talking to our guides how much the KMT was hated for failing to repel the Japanese invaders and its tolerance of huge economic inequalities. This has a huge influence on the average Chinese perception of the “renegade province” Taiwan, no matter who we speak to – we get the typical party line that one day the two will be reunited and the KMT will see the error of their ways…hmmmm.

The Nanjing Massacre memorial pays respect to and honors the memories of the 300,000 citizens of Nanjing who lost their lives to the atrocities of Japanese invasion forces in 1937 – the crimes committed were appalling and the museum does a wonderful job of honoring the innocent victims. The Yangtze bridge is a fascinating triumph of circa 1962 Chinese engineering…it is anchored at each end by statues of students, soldiers, farmers, and others marching in celebration of communism…what is amazing though is that this is the first crossing of the Yangtze river and it was only completed (initially with Soviet help) in 1962 – imagine if the Mississippi had not been crossed until then – it’s another indicator of how far China has come…but! The problem now is that the bridge is too low and large ships cannot get further upstream…this in turn inhibits economic development in the inland areas…100s of trains also use the bridge daily and because of its historical significance there is resistance to replacing it…there is apparently a plan to build a canal around Nanjing to allow larger ships access…given the population density of this city (over 10 million), it’s hard to believe that this is viable – but – this is China – anything seems possible here.

Also in Nanjing we visited a high tech development zone and got the normal pitch about the organizational efficiencies in the zone: its ecological balance, high living standards, attractiveness to foreign multinationals and so on…..we then visited China Sunergy, maker of PhotoVoltaic cells for the solar energy industry. We saw solar cells being made, the clean room and what looked to be a lot of Italian made manufacturing equipment.

Update from the Kogod Graduate Students

Professor DuBois and Kogod MBA graduate, Mark Ray, at his company in Shanghai.

Students in front of the China Development Bank in Beijing - the column is made of stone from the Three Gorges Project which was financed by the CDB.

During the tour of the Olympic facilities, there was a group of Uyghurs there as well. The Uyghur is a minority group in the north (Muslim) who have been advocating for autonomy.

Undergraduate Visit to Shougang Group Steel Co.

They took great pride in telling us their steel built the Olympic Torch and the Birds Nest. Several companies proudly described the role their employees as volunteers for the Olympics.

As always, the course trip is becoming an experience of a lifetime for the students.

Kogod Undergraduate Visit in Beijing

Visiting the home of a resident of the Hutong neighborhood in Beijing.

Freedoms in China: By Professor Sicina

In my five years of travel experience to China, I have seen dramatic increases in freedoms in general and freedom of speech in particular. However, limitations remain.

Direct access to our Blog is blocked as is access to You Tube. Access to Bloomberg stories appears to operating normally. Some articles download. Anything on Asia seems blocked. Singh's reelection in India downloaded however.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Graduate Student Visit to the Shougang Group

On, May 18th we visited the Shougang group which is the fourth largest steelmaker in China and got to see red hot steel plates being pressed into thinner plates, we also saw the blast furnace in operation – iron ore converted to molten metal...amazing – its facility west of Beijing is in the process of being shut down and replaced with one on a manmade island near Tianjin about 220 Km to the East……imagine this in the US – building an island off the coast of New York and putting a steel mill on it – from a supply chain perspective it makes a lot of sense – most of the ore is imported and much of the output is exported – this takes a lot of transportation costs out of the equation which when you are dealing with something like iron ore and steel (low value – high weight) can be significant.

On the other hand...I wonder about the environmental impacts...I could never imagine something like this in the USA – although in Houston? Who knows…. Following this visit we lunched at a place run by a minority group from the South of China (Dai?) and then visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Our guide Tom was at the Square just before the crackdown (or incident as they prefer to call it) occurred. A few days before the “incident” his father, who was a soldier and an ardent communist, had a friend talk him into coming home where he was promptly placed under “house arrest” and locked in his room for three days to keep him out of the way of the events of June 4th...what a story!