Best of Wangjianshuo’s Blog in 2007

I posted 374 blogs (before this entry) in the 365 days in 2007. Just now, I reviewed my monthly blog archive in 2007, and selected (just based on my personal standard) the best posts in 2007. Here is a full list.

What is your favorite blog entry in the year of 2007? Here are my monthly archive pages. When I look back, I found

it is so nice to have a blog, and you can clearly get some ideas about how the year of 2007 was for me. If there had been no such a blog, a lot of details of life may have been lost. I am so happy to have kept a blog, and encourage everyone to start one.

If you want to review the blog entries I wrote in 2007, here is the list by months:

Looking forward to a even more exciting 2008!

Wake up, Wake up

I am the sleepy type of person – I can sleep as much as the time you gave me.

This is the second day of the three day New Year holiday. As yesterday, I wake up by myself, at 12:10 noon time.

I always wonder why I like to sleep so much. Is it because of gene or just because of laziness?

I pull over my laptop on bed and check out what is happening on my blog (comment) and inbox (email).

Then I decide to wake up and make the rest of the day productive (productive enough to compensate the lost morning).

BTW, it is so sunny today. The sunshine pours to my bed and I am completely in the sunshine. Just as yesterday, because of the heavy wind, it must be very cold outside. Wendy wakes up early today, and disappeared – she is always like a busy ant to work on many things for the family – a little bit guilty, and need to catch up.

P.S. My friend Auren Hoffman posted a very good blog named: sunny people verses angry people, lovers verses haters. I love it a lot. I am trying (at least) to be sunny, and to love the world, although so many people choose to be angry and to hate.

Shanghai Metro Line #4, #6, #8, #9 Opens

Dec 29 is a big day for Shanghai Metro. 58 New Metro Stations were put into operation on the same day. Yes. It is not a typo. It IS 58 stations. This afternoon, I prepared my camera and coat and wanted to take photos of the new Metro Stations and metro trains, but it was really too cold and windy today. So I decided to turn to flickr to find some photos, and then do a report with these photos.

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Photo by a_laubner

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Photo by a_laubner

The new Metro exit of Line #8

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Photo by a_laubner

This is the new complete map of the Metro System in Shanghai:

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Photo by YGGG

Here is a post about the opening of Line 8 near his/her home.

People’s Square Station

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Credit: Keke

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Credit: Keke

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Credit: Keke

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Credit: Keke

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Credit: Keke

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Credit: Keke

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Credit: Keke

Expecting my Metro Trip

I am expecting my Metro Trip in the next few days. I will take more pictures of the Transition Hall of People’s Square Station, the new Line 6, and the Line 4. I prefer to use my own photos in my blog, and I try to avoid to write about something without being there myself. Shanghai Metro is an exception since it is so important to be missed. I will take more photos next time I take a ride.

Kijiji Expanding Office

Kijiji is expanding to the 19th floor of the same building. The same day last year, we moved into our current office, and the new life in the office started from Jan 4, 2007.

One year later, we expanded from the 18th floor to the 19th, and we are looking forward to a completely new start.

Happy New Year to my brothers and sisters in Kijiji.

Foreigners Individual Income Tax in China

This is a FAQ, as you can see from the discussion under my entry: Personal in Tax in China. I am not a lawyer, and I don’t want to pretend to know everything, or the accurate information (even a lawyer cannot be hold responsible for tax issues you have). But to help my expats readers, I did have the opportunity to talk with a lawyer, so I can try to answer the question.

Foreigners Working for Chinese Entity Should Pay

Any non-Chinese passport holder working for a local company, a foreign company’s representative office, subs-company in China, or a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise in China, that person need to pay tax to Chinese tax administration. In short, if the entity are you working for is registered in China, no matter what, you should pay the tax.

If you physically work in China, you should definitely pay your Income tax from day one you start to work.

Even if you do not physically work in China, you still need to pay income tax according to the money you get from this position. Of cause you don’t need to pay tax for your other income in your home country if you are not in China. Although it is a common practice that people make arrangement to pay by the offshore company, and only practically pay you 0 salary for the work you do in China, this practice is very dangerous.

Foreigners with China Residency Status Need to Pay Tax Based on Worldwide Tax

If you stay in China for more than 5 years, without leaving China for 30 consecutive days in one calendar year, or 90 days in total in a calendar year, you are regarded to have China Residency Status. In this case, you have to declare you worldwide income and pay the local tax authority based on that income. This includes but not limited to your property rental income in Mexico, your stock gain in NASDAQ, or your dividend in Europe. In short, you should pay tax for every penny.

Although the officials in the tax administration said they never heard of such a case, it is legally safe to stay out for 30 days every 5 year.

Expats or Visitors

If you stay in China for more than 183 days, you should pay tax for all the income from day one you enter China. This is often referred as the 183 day rule.

How Much Should Foreigners Pay

The tax rate is the same as local (not very sure about this, anyone wants to give any comment), which is listed in this entry. The only difference is, the first 4,000 RMB you earn is tax free.

YLF

Successful Kijiji Meetup

Had a wonderful Kijiji meetup today with about 7 users. Every time I have a Kijiji meetup with users, I feel very happy and confident.

As the head of a website, millions of page view or 20-30 thousands listing per day does not tell the whole story. Only by sitting down face to face with users can I really understand the values of the site, and the problems we need to solve.

It is amazing to hear the story that a girl got 100+ phone calls on one day with 14 hours of phone conversation that day, or another user who sell our her 3 rooms of stock within one week (under the pressure that her landlord ask her to move within half month). That stories are wonderful.

Also, it is pretty consistent about what users care among different users. It is pretty clear for us, after the talk, to set our priorities.

Everything is just wonderful.

In case you are a reader of Kijiji (and of cause a reader of my blog), thank you a lot for being with us. That makes all the effort we made meaningful.

screen-kijiji-new.year.2008.jpg

P.S. This hidden note is to YLF fellows who follows the YLF Blog Feed, I saw an article about June Mei here: Bloomberg’s interpreter’s path to China.

P.S. 2: Our reader and my friend Elliott Ng started a blog called cnreviews.com. I do agree about his comment about one-way mirror in his Inspiration blog.

Merry Christmas 2007

Merry Christmas, my friends, my readers, and everyone who see this note.

Although we do not celebrate Christmas in Shanghai, I’d love to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and very soon, a Happy New Year!

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Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

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Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Assembly – Great War Movie from China

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Back from Feng Xiaogang’s new movie – Assembly. It is a great movie. It is may be one of the first movie in China to pay attention to the individuals, to the lives in the war. This is very rare in the history of war movies in China.

In this movie, the point director wants to make seems to be "Every life is valuable, and deserve respect." That is very good point. Solider’s life is not something as romantic as leaders "heroism". Death is death – cold, crucial,  and full of pain.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for a movie to really look back and cut deeper into the war, and help people to understand what war really is. Although it is a big step for people in China to pay attention to solid’s life of red army, I am looking forward to a movie to memorize the lives lost on the KMT side of the war.

In this movie, the 47 lives were remembered, and honored, but when can history show some respect to the "lost of countless lives" (using the words to describe the contribution the team made in the movie) on the KMT side. They are also lives, and should also deserve respect. It is the war that we should fight against, not human lives.

Thanks Hengge to invite me and Wendy to the movie.

“I Will Follow All the Rules!”

Chatted with George the other day. George is my friend from New York who asked the wonderful question: Why everyone in China says “It is not impossible but difficult”.

When we talked about his recent relocation to Shanghai, we talked about the rules and regulations. George said: “I will try to follow all the rules anyway.”

This sounds so familiar. Li Hong talked about the same thing in the YLF dinner the other day. It was about the tax for foreigners. According to the regulation, any foreigners who stays in China for more than 183 days need to pay the local tax. Although it is not enforced, most foreigners tried very hard to follow, even the government official told them that it is OK to hold on and wait for some years. They just feel unsafe.

It is Sometimes Impossible to Follow

I smiled and said: “It is not always possible for you to follow all the rules.” Let me tell you why.

The first reason is, the legal system is a new system in China, and most of them were built in the last 20 – 30 years. This is also the period of fast-pace social and economic changes. There are conflicts between different rules, different laws, or regulations from different government departments. When I talked with friends from government, they are also trying very hard to solve this problem. They know that it is not consistent, but it takes time to solve this. The even bigger question to ask is, whether to publish a law that helps to address most of the problem while there are many potential conflict, or wait for 10 more years to solve all the problems and then publish a law, and at that time, the law may not be that useful, and there will be at least 10 years of absence of a law. That is a hard decision.

As in any fast changing system, only inconsistence can grow progress. That causes the problem that no one really can follow all rules, or laws.

So I said to George, although you try to follow laws in China, it is not always possible. It is just like the situation where you are standing at a cross road, and all the traffic lights are always red, while there is a “No Parking, or Standing-by” sign…. :-) You have to break a law, and it is your decision by common sense which one to break.

Having Law without Enforcing is a way to Manage

There are two types of scenarios for “Law without enforcing”.

Let me talk about a bad scenario. On a small street, there is a sign (or law) saying: “No Parking”. Let’s see how the person in charge can make money from this street. If there is no such a rule, the person in charge cannot fine anyone who parks there No money. No good. The opposite side is, when the No Parking law is enforced, and no one parks there at all, the person also cannot fine anyone. No money, no good. So finally, smart guy find out the trick is that only by having a law (by which they can fine), and it cannot be enforced (so he has someone to fine). That explains many places in China – the authority charges “protection fee” from vendor on the street, or people breaking the law, and that income was pretty stable.

OK. That is the bad scenario. Let me talk about the good scenario. China is not walking. It is running! In this case, any law may be out of date. Like the foreign exchange stuff, and other financial stuff, they have to have a strict guideline, so people cannot do many things, and at the same time, have some experiment (or special approval) to prove whether something works or not. This may not be the ideal case, but it is the way many people control risks.

In China, there are many cases like this. Hmm… I do feel confused (in China, who doesn’t) about what is the right direction. Enforcing a law is not always the best thing to do. You may be surprised to see I say so because it is politically incorrect. It is all about the quality of the law, the legitimation process, or the self-adjusting system for the laws. Without these, enforcing the existing law may cause a disaster – just like all reformers are all law-breakers. If the laws by Mao was enforced by violence, there will be no current progress of China. If we don’t give a chance for the current laws and regulations to be changed, or before they are changed, offers some flexibility, there will be no improvement.

P.S. To make the statement more politically correct, I would add: It is very hard to decide what kind of “breaking the law” is right or wrong. That is the role of law. So there must be some ways to improve the current status. That is all about the future of China.

MovableType Dirify Change for UTF-8

This is for MovableType 3.2, but the same for 3.3, or 4.0, 4.01.

In the file /mt/lib/MT/Util.pm, there are two lines. I have to change it from:

LINE 553: sub dirify {

LINE 554: ($MT::VERSION && MT->instance->{cfg}->PublishCharset =~ m/utf-?8/i)

LINE 555: ? utf8_dirify(@_) : iso_dirify(@_);

LINE 556: }

It has to be changed to

LINE 553: sub dirify {

LINE 554: # ($MT::VERSION && MT->instance->{cfg}->PublishCharset =~ m/utf-?8/i)

LINE 555: iso_dirify(@_); # ? utf8_dirify(@_) : iso_dirify(@_);

LINE 556: }

I made all the changes to my installation base of MoableType.

The reason is, I have all the titles dirified to become the URL. In Chinese names, the newer version (which actually fixed a bug) simply turns all UTF-8 (Chinese title) into nothing, which is not friendly for users.

After the change, the entry titled “Wendy说过一句话” will be in URL: http://home.wangjianshuo.com/cn/20071121_wendyeeaee.htm

Although the Chinese part was lost, at least it is some way of distinguishing different entries, and this encoding does not change along with the database. It does not has any type of IDs in it. Imagine if you have entry_id in the URL, and you do an export and import – all the URL changes.

Cool URIs don’t change. This is also what I believe.

Conversation with IPowerWeb Support

This was my conversation with ipowerweb support today. There is no surprise. Their customer service level is very consistent in the last few years. The conversation was near 1 hour. There are always several minutes to 10 minutes wait between my last sentence and his answer.

Chat InformationWelcome to IPOWER! You are number 15 in the queue. Your wait time will be approximately 7 minute(s) and 30 seconds. We apologize for the wait time. Please hold for a site operator to respond.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to

provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationYou are now chatting with ‘Steven Davidson’
Steven Davidson: Hi . My name is Steven, how are you today?
Steven Davidson: How can I help you today?
wangjianshuo.com: Hello
wangjianshuo.com: My site was transferred to the new platform
wangjianshuo.com: and I cannot connect to the MySQL server.
wangjianshuo.com: What is the new MySQL host name?
Steven Davidson: Okay.
wangjianshuo.com: My original setting was: ObjectDriver DBI::mysql Database wangjian_blog_2007 DBUser wangjian_mtsys DBPassword DBHost localhost
wangjianshuo.com: Localhost seems is different database than the shared server.
wangjianshuo.com: What is the new DBHost setting?
Steven Davidson: To protect your account from unauthorized changes, can you please verify for me the answer to the Security Question:
Steven Davidson: While reviewing your account I noticed that you have not set up the Security Question. In order to set the security question, please follow the steps given below:
Steven Davidson: 1. Log into the Control Panel with your account username and password.
Steven Davidson: 2. Click on the link ‘Set Security Question’ under ‘Account Information’ section.
Steven Davidson: 3. Click on the radio button ‘New Profile’.
Steven Davidson: 4. Enter the First Name, Last Name, and set the Security Question and the Security Answer.
Steven Davidson: 5. Click on the ‘Save’ button.
wangjianshuo.com: OK. Hold on.
Steven Davidson: Okay.
wangjianshuo.com: OK.
wangjianshuo.com: I set it.
wangjianshuo.com: Can you answer my question now?
wangjianshuo.com: The database screen shows my MySQL Server Host is: wangjian.ipowermysql.com
wangjianshuo.com: but I cannot use it to replace localhost.
wangjianshuo.com: What should I do?

(after several minutes)

wangjianshuo.com: Are you still there?
wangjianshuo.com: I cannot find the setting anywhere on your site.
Steven Davidson: Okay.
Steven Davidson: Please provide me with the answer to the Security Question: What is your mother’s maiden name?
wangjianshuo.com: ***
Steven Davidson: Thank you for the authentication.
wangjianshuo.com: This should be a common question, and you should put it onto your web site.
wangjianshuo.com: I don’t believe that no one ever tried to connect to MySQL. But there is no connection information
Steven Davidson: Okay.
Steven Davidson: You need to change the host name for the database in the config.php file.

wangjianshuo.com: What is the host name?
wangjianshuo.com: Which config.php?
Steven Davidson: Can you please hold while I look into this for you? I should have some more information regarding your issue in 2-4 minutes.
wangjianshuo.com: OK.
wangjianshuo.com: Appreciate it.
wangjianshuo.com: I just want to have a database name that works.
wangjianshuo.com: BTW, I don’t use PHP. I am using MovableaType which is PERL

(after more than 10 minutes)

wangjianshuo.com: any update?

(after more than 5 minutes)

wangjianshuo.com: Hello?
Steven Davidson: Can you please hold while I review your account and get back within 2 to 3 minutes?  
wangjianshuo.com: OK. I appreciate that you gave me update every 3 minutes, instead of let me wait
Steven Davidson: Okay.

(after about 5 minutes)

Steven Davidson: Thank you for holding.
wangjianshuo.com: ok
Steven Davidson: You need to change the hostname for the database wangjian_blog_2007  in the path cgi-bin/mt/mt-config.cgi .
wangjianshuo.com: I know. What is the host name?
wangjianshuo.com: That is my original question. Can you tell me what I should put into the DBHost?
wangjianshuo.com: Do you know the answer?
Steven Davidson: Yes.You need to put wangjian.ipowermysql.com
wangjianshuo.com: It does not work
wangjianshuo.com: http://wangjianshuo.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt.cgi
wangjianshuo.com: Check this
wangjianshuo.com: Got an error: Bad ObjectDriver config: Connection error: Unknown MySQL Server Host ‘wangjian.ipowermysql.com’ (2)
Steven Davidson: Okay.
wangjianshuo.com: Then what is the connection string?
wangjianshuo.com: What is the host name?
wangjianshuo.com: That is all I need from you.
Steven Davidson: Okay.
wangjianshuo.com: I don’t believe I am the only customer asking this question. Everyone need it. Would you please check around and give me an answer? I have been waiting here for half an hour and so did you.
wangjianshuo.com: Are you still there? You always seem to disappear.

Connection was lost….

This is the second try:

Chat InformationWelcome to IPOWER! You are number 6 in the queue. Your wait time will be approximately 3 minute(s) and 0 seconds. We apologize for the wait time. Please hold for a site operator to respond.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide the answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
Chat InformationWe appreciate your patience. All operators are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold and we’ll be with you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please be prepared to answer your Security Question when we begin chatting. To enhance our security protocols, we’ll need you to provide t

he answer to your Security Question at the beginning of our conversation. If you have not yet set your Security Question and Answer, please log into your account now to set it up. Thank you for waiting.
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This was partly my fault since after waiting for one hour, I didn’t catch the 1 minute window, and when I check this window again, the session has already been terminated.

P.S. Please note the interval between every "We appreciate your patience" was set to be 2 minutes. I saw 33 of them during the technical support process.

Why Things in China is Cheap?

There is no doubt that China is one of the most important base for manufacturing. Christmas is coming, and this reminds people that the even higher majority of world Christmas decoration is coming from China. Even the Christmas tree – if it is artificial – may come from China.

Goods in China are cheap. There are arguments of the quality (Well. I will talk about that part in the future). My question to answer today is, why China’s good is cheap?

Labor is the Key

I would say the labor is the key. In Southeast China’s Guangdong province, the average wage for workers in factories are 40 US cents per hour, a fraction of U.S., even 1/6 of New Mexico. Why that?

There is a theory of “Population Dividend” in China. I first heard about it from King. It describes the situation of China – with the huge population, and huge base of “available” labor, China and the world is enjoying the benefits of these population.

Imagine, in the last few years, with the shutdown or reform of state owned enterprises, 45 million people lost their old jobs, and have to find new one. This is just a very small amount comparing to the 800 million peasants in China. Many farmers lose their land in the process urbanization, they don’t have land, and they are ready to pickup any job that pays them salary.

Take Shanghai as an example, the newly born children in villages don’t have land when they are born, while in the past, all peasant’s children must be peasant – there is no way to change it. The up-side-down change in policy forces the new generation to find a job.

Often, 40 cents per hour is way much higher than the money they can earn at home.

Continuous Supply of Labor

The promise for wage increase is not high in the near future. The key is, although the demand is increasing in the country, the employed workers are still far from all of the abundant labors.

For example, if someone ask for 41 cents per hour to their factory, the boss may say, there are millions of people waiting out side the gate, and they are willing to take your job at the same or lower salary…

So when does this situation change? Only after majority of the “abundant labors” find their job, and there is not so many people wandering outside the gates of the factories, and there will be some kind of labor shortage, and the wage would surely increase. At that time, the population dividend is used up.

China after Population Dividend

The world is flat. When all the labors in China is used up, countries like Vietnam is not. Then the world factory will shift to other countries. Hopefully at that time, the domestic consumption of goods, and the hi-tech sector start to boom, and China can be still strong in exporting, and go to another “right path” for development. If not, it is dark cloud on the future sky of China.

Just my few cents about this big topic.

Went to Children’s Hospital – Refugee Camp

I went to Children’s Hospital on the Fenglin Road. Yifan’s ass looks red – should be very typical problem for children like his age, so we went to the Children’s Hospital today. The last time, I lined there for 3 hours to get a small cup of medicine – that worked very well. The medicine itself was 2 RMB, or 30 US cents, but it cost me almost the whole after.

The other day on the YLF dinner, Yong complained about the high pressure he had – waited in the Children Hospital for three hours for just some very small problems. I guess I was going to go through the same thing.

Many Many Many People

As always, there are so many people in the hospital – lines after lines of people. The hall way was complete jammed so people cannot move. It looks like exactly a refugee camp. It is not that terrible, but the nature of the children hospital does give me that impression. Children are crying, and mothers and fathers are shouting, and people pushing each other for their ways.

Time Worth Nothing in This Hospital

  • At the registration counter, there are 4 lines with 30+ people each – half an hour for get a ticket.
  • Waited in the line for a long time after get  a ticket.
  • 2 minutes to see the doctor.
  • Waited in the line to pay money – 40 minutes.
  • Waited in another line in the other floor – 20 minutes.

We arrived in the early morning, and when we finished everything (including the real 2 minutes payload time), it is lunch time.

When we are leaving the hospital, there are not as many people as the time we went in. I said to Wendy:

"Finally, I am able to see the color of the floor". That is very true. It is the first time I am able to see the floor when the crowd went back for lunch.

P.S. The other very interesting thing. They medicine the doctor prescripted for me worth 27 RMB (that I spent more than 1 hour to get), but they also prescript another two medicine that the doctor told me that it can only be bought outside the hospital in a private drug store. That two cost 147 RMB. I gave the prescript to the store, and they kept it. I am sure they will do some revenue share with the doctor.

P.S. 2. Too expensive and too hard for health care is a very big problem now. With the increase in GDP, and CPI, the common wealth didn’t increase proportionally.

Is Guanxi Important?

YLF

Many books about China says: “Guanxi is important in China”. Many people do research based on the books. Many foreigners know Guanxi is important in China.

The problem is, it is a little bit out of date today.

Guanxi is important, but no longer the ONLY key

Guanxi or relationship was very important, and is still very important in today’s China society. However, the importance of this factor is degraded based on my observation. It is just like “Hukou is important, and is still important, but not as important as before”.

Before, when there are no market rules, many things are controlled in the hands of the key person. Since everything belongs to a “virtual” country, the factor of a person is the most important factor.

However, these days, especially in large cities in Shanghai, or Beijing, many decisions are now business decisions, and there are clear owners (just like most countries in the world), the role of Guanxi start to fade out.

I want to make it clear that I am not saying relationship is not important in China any more. It is still more important in decisions than many other countries. What I am saying is, it is not as important as many books described 10 or 20 years ago.

Victor’s Car Plate was Stolen

After Victor’s dog was stolen and killed, and after his bicycle was stolen months ago,and his wallet, he also lost his car plate today.

How the Plate was Stolen

You know car plate, right? Every car has a plate. It is attached to the car, and can be easily detached. So, there is a business here in Shanghai to steal people’s car plate, and blackmail the owner. Victor is the victim of this car plate stealing case.

This morning, when he went to his car, and he found both plates at rear or head of his car was gone. Someone just removed the plates. It was not a big surprise for people in Shanghai anyway. The thief usually would leave a note at the window with contact information (typically a mobile phone) and instruction to the owner about how to get the plate back. The routine is, you call the phone number, and the other side gives you a bank account number. You deposit the money, and they will send a short message to you about the location of the plates.

Victor didn’t find any “instruction” – bad customer service of this professional thief, I would say. So he went to the police office to report the case. There are other people in the line to report similar cases. So he checked around and found other people has the instruction. He took a look and then called the phone.

Conversation with the Thief

The conversation was interesting. The thief answered phone quickly – I hope all customer service center answer the phone as this guy. Victor asked whether he took the car plate. Victor told him the number, and the thief checked, and be back and said: Yes, we have that plate.

The interesting thing is, the thief even complained that they typically only took car plate from outside Shanghai, since they can blackmail for higher price. For example, if they get a Beijing plate from a car in Shanghai, they can charge for several hundreds or more to the owner, since according to the current regulation, the owner has to drive 1000 miles single-way to Beijing to get a new one, and it took about 2000 RMB for round trip, and almost 3 days. Most car owners will pay the money to get their plate back. For Shanghai plate, however, the owner only need to spend one day and 200 RMB to get new plate. So the “value” is not very high for the thieves.

Anyway, the thief complained and asked Victor whether he wants to pay 300 RMB. Victor said no. Then he asked whether 200 RMB is OK. Victor said absolutely no. Then the guy hang up. Later, he called back and said he is OK to return it at 100 RMB. They didn’t make the deal.

The Police

Victor gets back to report the case to the policeman. The fact is simple – many people report the owner of the same mobile phone number stole their car plates, and blackmail them. The more important thing is, the phone is accessible, and there are many deals happening. It should be pretty easy to catch that bad guy.

The reality is, not surprising for me at all, the policeman just recorded the case, and said, Victor can pay and get a new plate now. He also told Victor don’t worry since even if he reports his car was stolen, that is all he can do – just to record it on the book.

Well. It is the same thing as the last time I reported the completely drunk driver scratched my car. In that case, the drunk driver’s car was there, my car was there, and I know they went to the building, but the policeman said there is nothing they can do and disappeared very soon.

Hmm….

OK. Another story about how the real life in China is like.

P.S. This is Victor’s blog about this event.

Current University Students are Different

I am back from a speech in Shanghai Jiaotong University tonight.

This is the second time I visit SJTU this month.

I just observe something very different between the students of this year (especially the first year students) and the students of two years ago.

The Reform of Higher Education

The change was triggered by the recent reform of higher education. According to the students, when they enter SJTU, they don’t know their majors yet. They know which school they will go to and will study for 2 years before they were assigned a major, depending on how good their first two years are. (Correct me if I am wrong. This is what I heard, but not necessarily the truth).

This way, the first two years of university students are very different from the previous years. They have to study hard. Everyday they wake up, go to class just as middle-school students, study hard, and go back to dorm when the whole day’s study is over.

They don’t watch TV as much, and they don’t watch movie, and even fewer people find a boy/girl friends than before. Because, the major assignment is just as the second “National College Entrance Exam“.

To be short, the recent reform changed the first two years of university to continued part of middle school.

Change in Students

To be honest with my readers, and even to the students I met in the last two speech, I am very disappointed of the first year students in Jiao Tong University (I didn’t visit other universities this year yet). They look like middle-school, and behave like middle-school. The biggest difference between the current first year students and students of the same age two years ago is, they don’t show any excitement.

I am a big fan of going to universities to talk with students. I enjoy that a lot. The reason is, I found the students are full of creative ideas, and full of passion. They want to know more – they want to know everything, and that kind of passion also inspires me a lot. When I run Kijiji, we hosted about 200 speeches in many universities. Unfortunately, this was only in my memory.

The current university students I am facing are more concerned with their score than any generations before. They don’t care about many things, and — I cannot describe the feeling more exactly than just to tell you, they are exactly middle-school students to me.

The other changes are, two years ago, when there is a speech like this, the whole room (sometimes with 1000+ seats) are full of students. People from all grades gather and listen to the speeches. Recently, according to my friend who organized many event, very few people come to lecture, because everyone is busy preparing for exams. They are so busy that they even miss the campus recruiting of big or small companies. It seems nobody worries about the fact that only 30% of students can find a job in one of the best universities, like SJTU.

I don’t want to hide my disappointment of the recent reform initialized by the Ministry of Edcation.

YLFer Gather in Shanghai

This entry is intended to notify YLFers (Young Leaders Forum) participants about the FYLer gather in Shanghai. Hopefully, many of you have subscribed to the Young Leaders Forum Fellow Blog Feed, so you should be able to get this news very soon.

We had a wonderful gather for YLFers. Thanks for the business trip of Rose from Beijing, and organization of Haisong (and paying the bill), we finally had:

  • Rose, 2007 Fellow
  • Haisong, 2004 Fellow
  • Li Hong, 2003 Fellow
  • Zhang Yong, 2005 Fellow
  • Nick, 2005 Fellow
  • Jian Shuo, 2007 Fellow

So nice to see each other again after the Nanjing trip. It should be the first known gather after this year’s forum.