Perspectives on China in 5 posts – 1/5

Returned from a quick but eye-opening five-day journey into Beijing. On the way back I thought the trip would be worth a couple of posts. At least. Let’s say 5.

These will be my own perspectives based on what I saw, heard, and read. My posts may have great misconceptions but what the hell. Wild guesses and random ramblings are the idea of blogging anyway.

First some background for this trip. A taiwanese professor Fan Chien Te visited Finland some years back. Now, a month ago or so he invites Niklas Bruun to give a talk in a symposiums held in Beijing. The trip didn’t fit Bruun’s schedule with such a short notice. Instead, he kindly threw the invitation to me.

At first, I had a great deal of mental hurdles to pass. I had my grazy Hong Kong experience from the past. We had a joint software venture there with Antti Halonen between 2001-2003, which the HK guys eventually stole away. I had since followed news from China with alarm. Pollution, SARS, poisoned food, immoral people, general dirt, “made in china” quality, free speech issues, pirate-midset with no creativty etc. Why would I want to visit such a rotten place on earth? I actually wrote a polite email back where I explained I would probably have nothing to contribute hoping that this would be it. Besides, I was having a tight shcedule in Finland. Teaching ongoing, completing an already-late book revision, one major consultation task etc.

Pofessor Fan then sent me a four-page letter to explain why I needed to come. Well, after engaging in the conversation I couldn’t say firmly no anymore (this happens to me all the time). I had the liberty to buy a business-class ticket and was given a loose schedule that included visits to major tourist attractions. Just five days or so total, I though. They must have fixed a lot for the Olympics, so maybe I can take it. To increase the thrill I chose Aeroflot – a day before that crash. Ok, I’m ready, this may be the last trip I ever do so let’s enjoy every moment like it would be the last!