Zhejiang University of Science and  Technology       Hangzhou

Note to Foreign Students, late 2014

Before you came to China, you were aware of censorship by the Chinese government.   You likely knew that Youtube,  Twitter,  Facebook, and some blog site hosts – blogspot, among others – were blocked by the Chinese government.    You understand that the CCP is so desperately afraid of the Chinese people that it cannot tolerate information from the outside – or inside - that is too “dangerous” to Party longevity.

In 2012, both the New York Times and any news sites operated by Bloomberg were blocked by the Chinese government, in retaliation for reporting on the fabulous family wealth of wen jiabao and xi jinping.    All of their sites are still blocked, including economic information and opinion from Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize winning economist.

Hospital Rules                                Summer and Fall, 2012

 

(reader note - this is a bit long, but has some details about hospital care.  Forewarned is forearmed)

 

A while ago, I wrote about mysteries of the parking lot market in Hangzhou. 

There are procedural mysteries everywhere in China.    Systems that are clearly not care-full of the needs of customers, but at the same time, seem not to be in the interests of the provider.   Hospital operations are another good example.   Take the Zhejiang Pregnant Women’s Hospital, one of the AAA rated hospitals in China.   Or the Hangzhou No. 1 Hospital, across the street from the Pregnant Women’s Hospital, another AAA facility.   Or, I surmise, most any hospital in China.   The systems, both physical and procedural, seem chaotic, redundant, and stupid, for every human inside the building.

It is supposed to be a sophisticated management insight that systems try to optimize.   Something.   Maybe not customer satisfaction, but maybe management benefits, or leader salaries, or bureaucratic time.   Profits.  Maybe it is hard to see what is being maximized or minimized, but by default, something must be. 

Hospital Rules has two meanings here - the procedures and requirements that any organization must impose to maintain order; and the peculiar implementation of rules in hospitals in China for which the only discernible purpose is to grind the customers into submission.   The administrative system - the Rules - uber alles. 

Source: my Experience at a Chinese Hospital  http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2014-04/23/content_17455961_2.htm

 

The Light Touch of No Government Regulation                                            Summer, 2011

 

In the socialist economy of China, government regulation is often as derided, or ignored, as in any of the tea party fantasies coming out of prole-land or Romney-Ryanville.

A key example is elevator operation in China, particularly in the non-western oriented buildings  (meaning buildings that have Chinese oriented businesses, not buildings that don’t have a western wall on the outside).    I can’t really speak to elevator safety, or emergency situations.   I don’t inspect limit switches, or floor leveling software, or cables, or brakes.   I have seen some heat-activated floor selection buttons, which have long been a no-no in the heavily regulated US, but what I really want to talk about is elevator floor selection software.

Shibboleth                                  

October 2007 and Spring, 2015

 

The first time was in 2007, in Dalian, one of my favorite cities.

One of my students - government officials from China – was showing me her hometown, and we were late night driving from Dalian to our next stop that would take me to the airport in the morning.

She was not driving.  Her driver did that, so we had plenty of time to talk.  And there were two other of my students in the van, and we moved from topic to topic about China and the US and national monuments and American history and  9-11 and terrorism in China and the US.   And I said that the 9-11 terrorists missed the most important target – the Statue of Liberty.

Moller Villa           October, 2008

 

You will all like this one, Rob particularly.   I am staying at the Moller Villa in Shanghai, which was a family home built by a Swedish/English shipping magnate in the 1930's for his daughter.  The story is that the daughter envisioned living in a fairy tale castle, and her father proceeded to comply with her wish.  The villa, interior and exterior, is phenomenal - beautiful brickwork and wonderful carved wood, like in some European... well, castle.  The villa was used in turn by both the Guomindang and the Gongchandang (Nationalists and Communists) after 1945 – no reason for leaders of any stripe to stint on luxurious surroundings. 

Source: Legolas1024 [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],from Wikimedia Commons

American History, and a Memorial           October, 2010                                                                                           

When Rob Mier died, in 1995, a good part of the national progressive community, in academia and neighborhoods, felt the loss.   Rob was not simply an academic – professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and head of the Center for Urban Economic Development, a research unit in public policy and community development.    “Not simply” because other teachers, at other schools, could match his academic pedigree.   But Rob was … more.   He was a professional engineer (a piece of his past that he used to great advantage in meetings and negotiations with government planning officials) and had a passion for activism in community development.   Theory, yes, but always balanced with real community action. 

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