Jazz at the JZ Club                                                    October, 2009

Went with Jonathan Gong Wei, one of the IIT students from four years ago, to the JZ Club, a jazz club on Nanshan Road next to West Lake.  I invited two of my fellow faculty members, Wu De Gang (Dominick) and Zheng Li, to join us.

Nanshan Road is the place to see and be seen in Hangzhou.  It runs adjacent to West Lake, so the views across the river are beautiful.  Think of the view of downtown Chicago from the Fullerton Avenue bridge over the pond at night, or the view of downtown from the Planetarium. Except that the lake here is small enough to see across, and in the distance are hills lit up with lights from houses, and the moon is out, and the city has worked very hard to make this area attractive to the "gold collared workers" that my friend Bob Yovovich talks about.

The Grade School Performance Gap                                                                                                                             

April, 2010

Vicky invited me to the opening ceremonies of the 3rd Annual Hangzhou Reading Festival.   She promised me a visit to the new Hangzhou main library, a gift of books from the No. 1 in Hangzhou, dancing girls, and a chance to be on TV.    Stronger men might have been able to say no, but books and dancing girls were just too much.

The new main library is in the new Central Business District, the new CBD, as everyone here call it.   Predictably wonderful.   New building, of course, with a grand interior atrium and nice blending of marble and wood for accents on walls and detailing on doors.

 Into Clean Air                                       October, 2009 

 

Steven Shen Kanming and his wife and son and I went to Anji, which is in Huzhou, a small city in Zhejiang Province.  A couple of you will like this one, because it is an adventure, not hiking through Afghanistan for sure, but an adventure nevertheless - hidden dragons, many waterfalls, and how face can be made in China (sometimes).

Update on the Occupation in Hangzhou - The G-20 in the Potemkin Village                             September 2, 2016

 

First off, let us stipulate –

 

  • It is vitally important for a nation to ensure security during the G20. National leaders will be present, en mass.  With terrorism threats salient everywhere, China wants to show off its prowess as a new member of the elite club.  In Hangzhou, terrorists and protesters,  ils ne passeront pas!
  • At the same time, China shows the major democracies, all of which are G20 members, and the world, that there are ways to ensure stability and harmony. No Seattle 1999 here!   Chinese soft power in action. 

 
The question for the G20 members, all of whom are seeing a Potemkin village Hangzhou, is what cost for stability.

Jane, Circa 2009

 

Al should have been there.

Most of you know Al Day as the local musician who made good.   He does more than keep a hand in, playing with his own trio around Chicago and Evanston, and he knows more about music and musicians than I know about anything.

So Al should have been there when I attended the first anniversary at MeToo Café in Hangzhou.   MeToo is an art gallery, despite the Café in the name.  It is one of dozens of show spaces for young Chinese artists, and it is a gem.   The look of New China is … new.   There is very little that is more than thirty years old.   Every hotel, every highway, every office building, every school, every store, every urban tree (almost) has that New Suburban look.   Schaumburg, circa 1970 or … anytime.   So the MeToo is a real find.

Chen Dongfan at MeToo, Fall, 2009
Chen Dongfan at MeToo, Fall, 2009

At the Alamo in Hangzhou                            Summer, 2004

 

One of the fun things to do in Hangzhou is attend the Romance of the Song Dynasty Show.   The Song Dynasty extended for about 300 years, ending in about 1275, with the conquest of the Mongols.   Now I don’t think there are many people in the US who would attend a show titled the Romance of the late Dark Ages, or the Romance of the Era of the Imperial and Magnificent Church.   This was the 1200’s, and we all believe in the progress of history.  But Barbara Tuchman subtitled her famous book about the 14th Century, the next century, the Calamitous 14th Century.    So this emphasis on romance just feels …. sort of misplaced, to me, the westerner. 

 

Recent

  • Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

    Abandon all hope, ye who enter here   New Year's Eve, 2020

    My wife is in the other room right now, crying. She has been reading Wuhan stories, those that get through before they are blocked.

    Even now, with the panopticon state nearly complete, some individual wechat messages do get through for a while.  The stories are too long to relay here. I can only give you a sense of the despair – doctors, nurses, people of Wuhan.

    It is The Plague (1).  People lined up at hospitals by the hundreds, carrying their x-rays with them, hoping against hope for someone to see them.  In most cases, people will not leave the hospital, or their place in line, so they sleep – without food, without shelter – on the floors, outside, anywhere that preserves their intention to see a doctor.  People dying on the floors untreated because there are no beds, no medicines, doctors cannot leave hospitals, people traveling - now by foot or bike, since buses are shut down - to five or six hospitals hoping someone will do the final checking that will allow them to be treated.  People who are seen by a doctor and deemed not sick enough yet are sent away.  There are certainly hundreds of those patients.  At least some deaths are not reported as virus related. Masks and hazardous treatment clothing are in short supply.  Some other provinces have sent teams of doctors to Wuhan, but it is not nearly enough. 

    The government in Wuhan comes in for special hate.  The provincial governor told everyone two days ago - after the quarantine was instituted - that all is well, don’t worry.  In his annual New Year’s speech to residents, the Hubei Party leader made no mention of the coronavirus at all. As of Wednesday, the 22nd, the first mention of the virus in People’s Daily was a small item on page 4.  The first two pages of the paper were all about Xi’s trip to Yunnan.    Mr. Xi’s New Year’s Message, reported from Xinhua, made no reference to Wuhan at all.

    No hospital is permitted to make announcements about contagious diseases – all such announcements have to come from the government.  The crisis leader is an 87-year old doctor who led the SARS crisis treatment (2).  Only when he announced that the virus could be transmitted from person to person did the government agree. 

    All public forms of transportation are shut down to Wuhan and now ten other cities in Hubei.  No intra- or inter-city buses. No air traffic or expressway traffic.  If your license plate has a Wuhan letter indicator, you cannot cross the border on the expressway without special permission. The only way to get around inside Wuhan is to walk, bike, drive, or take a taxi.  You know how many people don’t have cars.  People are significantly weakened by fever and lungs filling up with virus.  People have to make choices between staying with a sick parent in line or on the floor at the hospital for dozens of hours and taking care of their own children at home.  Hospitals have been told to report zero infections among staff, so doctors and nurses who might be infected are not reported.

    I haven't heard this yet, but since the whole city is shut down, there will be food shortages in a day or two.  Supplies will certainly be allowed in, but not likely in sufficient supply. 

    Doctors at hospitals in Wuhan said they expect the total number of infected to be more than 6000.  My own personal guess is that is a low number, based on nothing more than the severity of the foreign reporting, the paucity of Chinese government reporting, and the anguished stories on wechat. Doctors are reporting that some of those infected do not show any fever, so using temperature as a diagnostic is not completely effective, and the incubation period for the virus could be up to two weeks. Today, Friday, January 24, at the moment of writing, there were 900 officially reported cases, an unknown number of unreported cases, and reports are that the virus tripled over last weekend and has spread to 32 of 34 provinces. The Wuhan lockdown is unlikely to be effective, first of all because a lockdown of a huge area of 11,000,000 people has never been tried before, and the window for controlling spread of the virus had already closed before the lockdown was announced on Wednesday.  Not to mention the number of cases officially not reported.

    Thursday, January 23, central government mouthpiece People’s Daily sent out a cheery message.  The Chinese people are united in their support for Wuhan.  This is unspeakable. 

    Wuhan, hang in there! You have the support of all people across the country. The more difficult the situation is, the more united the Chinese people are. This has been constantly proven by both history and reality.

     

    人民网评:越是艰难险阻,愈益众志成城

    苏秦

    2020年01月23日11:18  来源:人民网-观点频道

    分享到: “1月23日10时起,全市城市公交、地铁、轮渡、长途客运暂停运营;无特殊原因,市民不要离开武汉,机场、火车站离汉通道暂时关闭。”武汉市连夜发出公告,传递明确信号:武汉正在采取更细致、更深入、更扎实的防控举措,全力遏制疫情扩散蔓延。

    非常之时,非常之举。这昭示了一个基本逻辑,为了守护人民群众的生命安全:不怕兴师动众、不怕“劳民伤财”、不怕十防九空!

    传染病防治有其复杂性,更有其规律性,必要时候必须采取非常之举,这于情于理于法都有坚实支撑。非常之举,必然要打破常规、影响常态。武汉市民的生活将不可避免地受到影响,我们向武汉市民的付出致敬!打赢这场防疫硬仗,每一位武汉市民都值得感佩,每一名积极参与者都值得我们呈上敬意。

    非常之举,更需要政府部门遵循全心全意为人民服务的常理。积极回应民众的合理诉求,最大限度减少应急措施带来的不利因素,也是当务之急。这是对我们治理体系的测试,是对我们治理能力的检验。除了武汉,没有哪一座城市可以作壁上观。这不仅是因为疫情的联动效应,更是因为我们对人民的庄严承诺。

    疫情来得迅疾,目前一些地方、一些环节面临挑战,做好药品、消毒、器械等防控物资的储备供应,显得迫在眉睫。需要看到,中国作为世界工厂,并不缺少物质生产力,补上物资缺口并非难事。一些地方出现物资短缺属于结构性的,只是“地域错配”,加上春节工厂放假因素而导致缺货。我们呼吁,口罩等物资的相关厂家能急疫情之所急,开足马力生产;全国各地也能紧急驰援、相互支持。

    只要全国一盘棋,统筹安排,协调推进,相信很快就可以解决物资短缺等难题。在这个时候,我们就是要把长期培育的社会动员能力和制度优越性充分释放出来。我们的党员干部在危机面前尤其要发挥先锋模范作用,引领大家增强必胜的信心,打赢这场硬仗!

    武汉加油,全国人民支持你们。越是遭遇艰难险阻,我们愈益众志成城。这是被历史和现实不断验证的中国逻辑。

    相关评论

    人民网评:抗击疫情,人人责无旁贷

    人民网评:疫情面前要算大账

    人民网评:面对疫情,任何侥幸都可能夺人性命

    No one trusts the government, among other problems.  When you have a single source of authority, of power, no one can act on local knowledge to do better.  That is what Hayek said in The Road to Serfdom and James Scott said in Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.   Scott calls this a failure of high modernism, and Chinese governance most certainly is an example of that in every aspect.  Engineering efficiency demands that nothing stand in the way of official action.  But official action does not respond quickly to local knowledge (3)  Combine with a hierarchical government system in which bad news does not want to flow up the chain of command, there is extreme media censorship, and you have the sort of place over which that motto might fit well – abandon all hope.

    Happy New Year.

     

     

    (1) from the Wall Street Journal, January 22 -

    China’s cabinet-level National Health Commission said Monday it would treat the new coronavirus as a Class A infectious disease, meaning it would be handled similarly to cholera, the plague and to how it handled the SARS outbreak. Both SARS and the new virus are officially categorized in the more benign Class B.

    (2) from Caixin, about January 20 –

    A prominent virologist who helped identify the source of the deadly SARS coronavirus nearly two decades ago told Caixin that Wuhan’s spike in new cases “shows that the (new) virus can spread from person to person.” Guan Yi, who heads a laboratory for emerging infectious diseases at Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health, said that while the virus had seemingly not initially passed between people, the rise in cases over the past several weeks meant “we should no longer be playing word games about whether or not this constitutes human-to-human transmission.”

    He can afford to speak up.  He is 87 years old.

    (3) from South China Morning Post, January 20 - China's post-SARS reporting system may explain long delays in announcing new cases of Wuhan virus

    “… Actually it only takes a short while to get virus results in local hospitals with the test kits. What is time-consuming is that suspected cases are required to wait for a second positive result from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention [in Beijing] before a panel of experts can go ahead with clinical diagnosis. Only after these three steps are completed can we publicly declare any confirmed case,” the official said.

    Well done!  One of the early cases was dated January 3.  His viral status was not announced until the 19th.  Most people at hospitals are turned away or simply leave without seeing a doctor at all.

     

     

     
  • Remember Hong Kong

    Remember Hong Kong

     I've written quite a bit about the Hong Kong protests - here, on learning from Hong Kongers and here, on the end of soft power and here, with some sympathy for the Hong Kong police. 

     It feels like we are approaching the end.

    Read more ...  
  • Crash out (2)

    Crash-out (2)

    update at November 13, 2019 to Crash out -

    Crash out may not happen.  We will find out in January.  But the wounding of the British economy is happening as we type, and this piece in Foreign Policy - Chinese Firms Can't Avoid Being Party Tools - is a good example of how and why Brexit is great for business ... in China.

    Read more ...  

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