A huge transformer factory in Jinan, Shandong

On 4 July 2016 we took the high-speed train from Beijing to Jinan (Shandong Province) to visit a huge factory that manufactures transformers, reactors and more.

Interesting experience for several reasons.

With the HS train we left in the morning, had lunch with the company, visited the factory and were back home in Beijing in the late evening. The trains are super-fast, cruising at 300 Km/h, so smooth that you actually think they are rather “slow”. The Beijing South Railway station is simply huge, looks more like a very large international airport with shopping and all. Security is tight but smooth. As foreigners we could not order the tickets online and could not use the ticketing terminals (only available for Chinese ID card holders). We had to line up at the counter but it went rather quickly and they did accept my Green Card. For security reasons all passengers must have a valid ID.
As I expected, arriving back in Beijing the taxi line was ENORMOUS (I guess one hour queuing not enough), badly managed and with black taxis trying to rip you off. We simply took the subway, the terminal is inside the railway station.

The Jinan West Railway station is also modern and pretty cool, not crowded.
Many countries can learn from this China experience, in particular the USA who area century behind in transportation.

The visit to the factory was also impressive, one can reflect on how factories in the West can still compete. Super clean and efficient, the most modern equipment (a lot from Germany), the factory is nice, vast, few workers. Special clothing and ventilation rooms to remove the dust from you when you enter. See the pictures.
It is one of our main clients with whom we closely work together.

EMBA group from Yeshiva University

Talking again to EMBA delegation from Yeshiva University (New York, USA), 14 EMBA students and 1 faculty member prof. Andrew Geller. The tour in China is organized by ISP from Prague, a long-term partner.

This time in Novotel Peace, close to Wangfujing in Beijing.
My usual “personal introduction” to China today and an overview of the many challenges the country is facing today, followed by a Q&A.

Why WeChat cannot be “international”

In China we are all addicted to WeChat (weixin in Chinese). We use it a lot, for chat groups, to record and send pictures and short videos, for (free) video calls, all like a Twitter/Facebook/WhatsApp/Skype combined, to transfer and receive money, to look for people, to send your location, to order a taxi, the list is endless.
So in China, it is enormously popular with over 600 million users

But entering the international market is still far away and for a host of reasons:

  • China spies on all communications within WeChat and censors whatever is does not like and cancels subscriber if they “are not behaving”; foreigners (especially abroad) don’t want to to spied upon and censored;
  • Some of the advanced functions such as “Official Accounts” (I have one) have interfaces in Chinese only;
  • To join larger groups, transfer money and other functions you basically need a Chinese ID and a Chinese bank card, it is very difficult to solve that wall as a foreigner;
  • It seems servers have become very slow to handle traffic such as receiving pictures if the sender is not located within China.

As long as those concerns are not addressed (and unlikely to be!), other competing app will be stronger in other countries. Pity.

Honor gallery of China Friendship Awards

I was surprised to see me in the China Daily article, where they selected a very few of the award winners of the China Friendship Award… I did not expect that at all. Is the same journalist who did the previous article about me. Half-awake drinking my morning coffee discovered it.
The article:
29 June 2016 – Old friends and new challenges
By Liu Xiangrui – China Daily

See the link:

And see here my pdf version:
160629 ChinaDaily

It is pretty cool as the selection of the 5 people mentioned is out of the dozens of China Friendship Awards.
A bit sarcastic for me to be featured under “The Party’s 95th Anniversary” haha.

Participating in CCTV Dialogue not fun

On 8 June I took part in the program of CCTV.
After a long wait it finally came out on 4 July 2016:

Title: “Future of China-Australia ties”
It was a Dialogue special in which CCTV joined forces with Australia’s Sky News for a panel debate on the Sino-Australian relationship. Two hosts: Yang Rui (CCTV) and James Middleton (Sky News Australia)
Four Chinese debaters:

  1. Sr. Colonel Zhou Bo, Director, Center for International Security Cooperation, MND
  2. Prof. Zhu Feng, Executive Director, China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, Nanjing University
  3. Prof. Zhu Ning, Deputy Director, Advanced Institute of Finance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  4. Charles Liu, Founder & CEO, Hao Capital

And four Australian debaters:

  1. Professor Gary Smith, Vice President, Deakin University
  2. Professor Greg McCarthy, BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies, Peking University
  3. John Russel, Managing Director, North Head Communications
  4. Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific Editor, The Australian newspaper

Well, I found the topic pretty sensitive – the issue of the South China Sea – and I thus kept silent. The panel discussion was not well structured in my view. We as part of the “international audience, former politicians and opinion-makers” were supposed to ask questions to the panelists on the stage. It all went in a strange way and our group was barely visible during the near one hour program; we were literally “left in the dark” and I was wondering why we were even there.

OK it was fun entering for the first time in the new CCTV building (ground floor only) but I have had much better experiences with CCTV in the past.
And yes I am still a lousy selfie taker! See the views of and from around the CCTV tower.