Monthly Archives: August 2008

Salary for Foreign Engineers

I received an email from an Italian Engineer who received an offer from a Shanghai company of 10,000 RMB (about 1,400 USD) per month salary in Shanghai. He asked whether it is high or low for a foreign engineer. I believe this is a very common question to ask for people considering a Shanghai job, so I want to spend today’s blog talking about this issue again.

Before you continue reading, I believe my previous articles on the same topic may help:

  1. Foreign Job Seekers Move to Shanghai Oct 31, 2007
  2. Is 10,000RMB/Month a Ridiculous Offer? Apr 6, 2005
  3. Salary in Shanghai – Part II May 19, 2004
  4. Salary in Shanghai Jan 6, 2004
  5. Find a Job in Shanghai Aug 20, 2003

The Line Between “Foreign Candidate” and “Local Candidate” for a Job

Things change dramatically in the last 5 years since I started my blog. Just I talked in the

article: Foreign Job Seekers Move to Shanghai, more and more foreign people are moving to Shanghai to seek for job. I cannot imagine it when I was a college student 10 years ago, but it is turning into reality.

20-10 years ago, only senior people come to Shanghai, like the General Manager for a business, or those senior managers for a plant. They came as part of the move in of international companies. They receive really high salary, not only by the standard of local salary level, but also by the standard of their peers working in their home country – the hardship bonus is a very big part of their pay. At that time, the gap of salary level between foreigners and local employees are very high, easily 5 – 10 times difference. However, to be fair, the gap is not only because of their foreign status, but also because of their roles in the company. There are not many people who can take those roles when China just started its journey of internationalization, and/or market economy.

Recent years, more and more senior positions are filled by local people since the younger generation have grown up in China, while more and more junior positions are open to foreign job seekers. This changed the landscape of the comparison of local and foreign people’s salary a lot.

Foreign, or Local is not the Key for a Job

Although for some positions, it is still an important factor, but generally, less and less jobs are tied to nationality. Like software engineer position, talented young college graduate from China is apply (as always in the last 20 years), and more and more foreign college graduates are joining the race, as the number of resumes I received and my friends received from abroad indicates… For higher level jobs, like a marketing manager or GM, local MBAs are competing with international MBAs.

In this situation, foreign job seekers have to face one thing that they may not like, that is, they have to face the competition from the local talent. This is not a very good thing since in the competition for jobs, especially for relatively lower end jobs, foreign candidates do not have obvious advantage, especially for the expected salary.

10,000 RMB is a very decent salary package for local engineers (with few years of experience), while it is an Ridiculous Offer for an engineer in London. On the other hand, the quality of local engineers are more and more competitive with the recent educational system.

Accept it or Something…

Now let’s get back to the original question. If 10,000 RMB/month is the market standard for the position, I don’t think a foreign candidate has too much negotiation power to change it, unless it is a position that only foreigners can fill. My friend shared the story with me. She interviewed a candidate for his position, and he is qualified for it. She said, “I am happy to accept you, but I can only offer 1/10 of the salary you are earning now.” That is the cold reality. (For people who are curious, the candidate I talked about finally accepted the offer).

If that is the case, you can only take it or leave it. If you feel that is not acceptable, maybe find another place to apply for a job. I know it is no longer paradise as the early days in Shanghai – backpacker foreigners who can speak English earns much more than local professor or manager by teaching English lessons on their part-time. The good old time just past.

10,000 RMB

What does 10,000 RMB/month means?

It is a decent salary, if not a “impossible” salary for most of people. It is good enough. You can leave decent local life and you can be much better than many people.

This brings in another interesting question: I heard Shanghai is one of the most expensive city to live, isn’t it?

My insight for this is, if you want to live western developed country life here, it is even more expensive than western cities. For example, cars are much more expensive than any city in US, and golf can cost your 10,000 RMB in one week easily….

However, if you go to local good restaurants (not those for expats, which charges more than a whole dinner for a beer), or take public transportation, or even taxi, it is very good for you.

Good Luck

So finally, good luck to you and other foreign job seekers to Shanghai. The good thing is, finally, the job market in Shanghai and China opens to foreigners, but the problem is, as you can imagine, the competition started.

The Wonderful 2008 Meetup

Today, we had a wonderful Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup. Thanks everyone for coming!

The meetup was held in the Starbucks Jinyan Store. It is a Saturday afternoon. The helpful and kind staff told me that after Olympics, many people appeared out of their home, and came to the Starbucks. 100 table in the outside area was occupied. We were lucky to have a corner on the second floor, so about 20 of us can gather and had wonderful conversation here.

Who Came..

As expected, Christina Hou, Christina’s friends (sorry, what is your name in written, I just cannot remember it clearly after I am back. :-(), Michelle, and Auastasia (from Moscow Russia) showed up. Then we had Jeremy. This morning, I received a comment from Jeremy Friedlein after I posted the entry stating I am expecting 3-5 people:

3-5? I will bring 14.

He really meant it. He is a director of an oversea training program, and he really brought about 14 of his students from the CET program. His team was a wonderful addition to the meetup since they came from both China and US, and from different states from the United States. Many of them just arrived in Shanghai 2 days ago, which makes it possible to share their really fresh impression of the city.

What We Talked

The talk started with the question, “what is a meetup”. Let me explain it again here. It is a very, very, very (please pay attention to how many “very” I used) causal gathering of my blog reader’s community. I intentionally didn’t do any promotion – just an entry about WHEN and WHERE I will be in from time to time on my blog. The notice is often posted within 10 days before the meetup (not too long lead time), and I didn’t send any emails out about it. The goal is very simple – to have really causal readers of my blog to gather together and to share the excitement of being in this city and being connected through a little blog.

Because of the casual nature of the meetup, I never really know how many people will come for each meetup. Sometimes just myself (as once in San Francisco), and sometimes there are many people coming. I don’t want to control the event by myself (Well. I admit the only way I control it is to decide how long in advance I post the notice, or the expectation I set for the meetup before hand). I am happy that every time, there are some surprise for me, and for my readers who came.

When we talked many topics from self introduction, to live in this city, from the feeling of first few years/few days after coming to this city, to the culture shock, or T.I.C moment, from why I started my blog (The top question in my FAQ list), to what is my plan for this blog in the future (my answer was, no plan except keeping blogging), from places to visit in Shanghai, to the recent Olympic Games.

The Photo

Here is a photo we took at last with almost everyone in it.

Photography by Tang Jinyao

In the photo, I am in the middle – yes, I just had my hair cut and get fatter a little bit. On the right hand is Russian girl Anastasia. Jeremy is at the back and Christina is on the far left end. There are certainly many other people in the photo who I remembered their name or not yet. Looking forward to know each of you more in the future – we have a blog (and comment section) to talk online, don’t we?

Mr. Tang, Mr. Lee, and others from ICS

I left Tang and his team from ICS to the end, but not the least. This meetup is specially, since the program of A Tale of 3 Cities came to the meetup to document what is happening there, and interviewed some of my readers, and me. We shoot some outside city scene from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM before the meetup, and wrapped up everything a little bit after 6:00 PM, longer than expected. If you want to know what is going on during the meetup, tune to ICS (International Channel Shanghai) channel at 9:30 PM on Saturday, Sept 6, 2008, which is exactly 7 days from today. Everyone who came should be able to see yourself on TV then.

Tang is a wonderful person. He is reporter and editor of the program A Tale of 3 Cities. He is very passionate about his program that he spent a lot of time talking with me and took the time to walk along with me in the Wujiang Road. He helped to facilitate the meetup and arranged the TV shooting with the Starbucks (interestingly enough, not as most brand, Starbucks PR does not like their logo to show up in TV program, which they asked as a criteria to let us in. Strange). The whole afternoon was a wonderful experience for me – amazing afternoon. Thanks Xiao Tang.

Mr. Tang Jinyao from ICS. Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Next Meetup

If you missed this meetup, don’t worry. I will arrange such meetup in the future. I will post notice in advance, so if you want to be part of it, just pay attention to my blog, or subscribe my RSS to stay up to date. However, don’t ask me to notify you via email or other ways. I’d like to, but I just feel it is not easy to keep track of such commitment and it is very easy for me to fail to notify you. So come back often and check this blog. As my typical style shows, the I often post meetup in last minute (several days before it, instead of planning it way in advance).

I am traveling to the America from Sept 13 to Sept 22, and I will be in San Francisco (including San Jose, Palo Alto, SFO), and Seattle (and nearby places). I will definitely be at Microsoft campus in Redmond in the afternoon and dinner of Sept 17. Maybe I will find some way to notify my readers when I am there. As always, to meet with my readers in person is always my favorite experience.

Thanks everyone for coming! You made my day!

Blog Meetup on August 30, 2008

Tomorrow, I will have a small meetup in Pudong Starbucks Jinyan Store. Now it seems 3-5 people are coming. It is good enough, so we have some time to chat about life in Shanghai. Since it is just tomorrow, let me irritate about the logistics, and a special news. The following is organized in a Q&A format.

Q&A

Q: What is the meetup?

A: No particular goal, just free chat. Since I many got request for meetup, and my typical answer is, I will arrange meetup from time to time on this blog, so we have some opportunity to meet in person. It also provide a chance for the reader community to know each other.

Q: Who will come?

A: I don’t know. Sometimes just myself, and sometimes, there are more than 20 people. Who knows. People may show up or not. I have no idea before that.

Q: What about the cost?

A: It is pretty AA (go dutch). You may want to buy a cup of Starbucks yourself. I get there in advance, and take seat to sit down.

Q: Where is the Starbucks we are meeting up tomorrow?

A: It is at the south side of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, on the other side of the river – there is a pedestrian bridge over the river.

Q: How to get there?

A: Highly recommend to take Metro. Use Metro Line#2 and exit at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. Then go east or west to get around the museum. You will see a river, and a big Starbucks logo. Cross the river, and you are there. If you take taxi, tell the driver to bring you to the Jinyan Road 锦严路 (near Jinxiu Road, and Huamu Road).

Q: What is the weather tomorrow?

A: Heavy rain. If you cannot come due to the heavy rain, it is absolutely fine. I will be there at 3:00 PM.

Q: What if I cannot find you or get lost?

A: Call my mobile 13916146826.

Special News

I got message that crew of ICS (International Channel Shanghai) is coming to the meetup and they want to interview some of my readers there, of cause under your permission. If you want, you can appear on the ICS.

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Dos and Don’ts For Foriengers in China

My reader asked what is the dos and don’ts for foreigners (or America as he is) in China. Here is my answer:

@Pedro Godoi, don’t worry, just enjoy your trip and don’t care too much about the dos and don’ts. Just follow the common sense in America. Typically, people in China, and in Shanghai of cause, are very nice to foreigners, and they tolerate a lot if you cannot use chopstick, or don’t understand many local things. It is OK to be nature as in every where in the world. Most dos and don’ts here are the same as most places in the world.

If you do ask me for one don’ts, that is, don’t always think there is only one correct way to do things. Be open in mind and don’t be too quick to judge the country.

At a second thought, I may want to add the following dos and don’ts for my friends.

Dos

  • Do try new things in China. Many people come to see a world different from the world they live, so take the opportunity to try some new things, like walking out of the 5 star hotels to the street to learn what normal people do.
  • Do smile. People in China are generally very kind to visiting foreigners, so be kind to them.
  • Do make local friends. It is through friends that you understand the country better than wandering on the street. People in China love to make foreign friends, especially young people, since it is also a good opportunity for them to learn world outside, or at least learn English or other foreign language

Don’ts

  • Don’t think people staring at you as hostile. Most of the straight look is out of curiosity instead of discrimination, or hate. This is especially true in inner China where people don’t see many foreigners in their life before.
  • Don’t try to enforce your local rules. I saw foreigners yelling at local people claiming to send them to court, or get involved in argument based on the local rules, or laws. Show some respect, since there are other rules locally. Just try to understand it. If people cross the street at red light, give people time (in China, it means decades) instead of yelling at people.
  • Don’t misbehave. This is very general, but don’t misbehave just because you are out of your home country, and you don’t feel the pressure of laws. Or you may find many local people did something, like jaywalking, and you follow. Please don’t do it, since when you don’t know something (for example, you don’t know what is Qing Dynasty, or you don’t use chopstick), it is acceptable, and often welcomed. However, if you do some bad things that local people think is bad (no matter how many break the rule), they will think very badly of you (I do). Try to stay the bar high. I understand that China is still far from a modern country, even after a successful Olympic or enjoying high grow economy, but I don’t want to lower the standard I set for myself. Many local people do the same thing, that is the reason they don’t like people behave differently from the relatively higher standard in public places.

Anything you want to add?

Buy Train Ticket After On Board

My reader asked me whether it is possible to buy D train or CRH train ticket after getting on board.

My answer is, generally, no.

Checkpoints before you get on board

In Shanghai Railway Stations, for example, you have to have a valid train ticket before you get even close to the door of the train. Here are the possible places you need to show your ticket.

1. The Station.

The rule is, you can enter the train station only 2 hours before the train departs. You need to line up and show your ticket to an officer outside the train station. it is the same for the South Railway Station. The reason is, with too much people, without the check, many people may use the train station as a temp home, and enjoy the free air conditioning system. It is fine to have just a few, but as any train station in China, there are many people sitting or sleeping outside the train station, just wait for the 2 hour time to come.

2. The Platform.

After you wait in the waiting room in the train station, you need to line up to show to the person at the checkpoint before the platform to enter the platform. This is to avoid people holding other train ticket to get onto the departing train. This is gate opens 30 minutes before the train departs, and closes 5 minutes in advance.

3. The Train Cart.

Before you enter the train, you need to show the ticket to the train conductor before you enter the train. This is also to avoid people holding normal seat ticket to get into a better class of train cart. They can move freely after the train starts to move, but this check helps to keep the order of the train at the very beginning.

4. On the Train

The train conductor will check train ticket on board to find people who don’t have the ticket. This is routine check, and it is not easy to skip. Actually, this is the real check that prevent ticket slipping. If you are caught, you need to pay for the ticket.

So, if you don’t have a train ticket, it is not easy to get on to the train.

However, There Are Still Ways To Get On Board

Generally, you need to buy a ticket before you get on board, but there are other ways to work around it. The secret is, the Platform Ticket!

You can buy a platform ticket to gain access to the platform. Platform tickets are used for people to accompany their family, friends to get onto the train or those who pick up their friends on the train. The ticket is not valid for travel, just for a short period of time before the train departs, or arrives.

It costs 2 RMB in Shanghai.

If you have a Platform Ticket, you can pass check #1, and #2. For checkpoint #3, you can tell him/her that you can getting back very soon. When you are in the train, stay there until the train moves.

Then either wait for the train conductor to come to you to pay the full amount of the ticket, or you go to the train conductor (who often have office in the middle of the train) to buy a ticket. That is normally what people do.

Do you have any more tips about how to be able to buy ticket on board?

Prepared for Shanghai World Expo

After the curtain of the Beijing Olympic Games falls down, we can expect the other big event in China – the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. This time, the hosting city changes to Shanghai, the city I am living in. I am very excited about the Expo, and looking forward to a great time during World Expo in Shanghai.

The World Expo Site

Unlike the Beijing Olympic, which is still 1400 km away from my home, the Shanghai World Expo site is pretty close to where I am living – it is just about 3 km away. Everyday when I drive to work and home, I will see the construction of the site on the west side of the Nanpu Bridge. In 2010, I am looking forward to walk to the Expo site to enjoy the exihition there. Here is the area of the Expo site on Google Earth:

You can see the area between the two bridges are almost wiped out to blank. That is exactly where the Expo will be held. Their website provides much more information about the site.

Something Exciting About the Expo

I don’t know too much about the Expo itself yet, but as a local resident, I am excited because of several facts:

  • With the hard deadline of 2010, the city construction speeded up greatly. Many metro lines are under construnction and will start to operate before 2010, including the Jinxiu Road Station of Metro Line #7 at the entrance of my residential area.
  • The Expo Site is IN the city. Unlike most other events in which the site is far from the city, aiming to create a new satelite city, the Shanghai Expo site is planned in the downtown area of the city – just beside the Huangpu River. It is already turning the land into another Lujiazui financial center.

Time for the Expo

It has been decided the Expo will start from May 1, 2010, to Oct 31, 2010. At that time, my Yifan is already 3 year old, and will be able to attend the Expo with me and Wendy. I am happy for him because he can start to tough the “world” when he is still very young.

According to the Shanghai Expo official website, there are 617 days to go from today to the opening of the Expo. BTW, will there be an opening ceremony for it? I don’t remember so for the past expo.

The Site Today

I drove the area the other day. Although from the top of the Nanpu Bridge, you already see many high raised buildings still not finished for the Expo, driving on the road in that area is like driving into a village – there are construction sites everywhere, and the roads are generally narrow, and most of the narrow roads are dead ended. The land is just “as it is” these days before the massive construction starts.

Driving on the road is not the best way to see the expo site. It is closed, and not open. Sometimes I used the holes on gates or walls to look inside the site, but most of the time, I just see empty land. The expo site posted some great photo.

Image in courtesy of Shanghai Expo 2010 site

Image in courtesy of Shanghai Expo 2010 site

Stay Tuned

In the next two years, I will be consistently update about the status of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on this blog. I am trying to share with you the photo I take by myself, things I heard and feel about the Expo, and its impact to me and people around me. Hopefully, it is as successful as the Olympic Games in Beijing. Let me know if you want me to be your eyes and ears in this city. Remember, my home is just 3 km away from the site.

P.S. Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup

A gentle reminder, I will host a Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup in the coming Saturday. Click here for more information, and signing up.

Goodbye Olympic

Olympic closes with not an not-as-fancy-as-opening closing ceremony, but it didn’t affect my love to Olympic, or my enjoyment of the Games. Several changes to me:

  • It promotes sports. I started to pay attention to sports and get involved more than before.
  • My favorate sports in the Games are: volleyball, table-tennis, bench volleyball, 3m springboard, and running.
  • In the last week, I swimmed, I played table-tennis, and I played beach volleyball. I believe it must be because of the impact of the Olympic on me.
  • I enjoy the whole process of the Game. Because it is the first time in the recent years for the Game to have the same time zone, I can get updates from the game consistently throughout the day, and I am used to tune to TV when I am at home, or tune to the right radio station on the road.
  • The first two days without Olympic are boring. I just feel I am lack of information now.

Looking forward to the London Olympic!

Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup

Emm… What was the last time of Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup? That is maybe one year ago in Palo Alto (recorded here) in Sept 2007.

I am planning to host another Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup 10 days from today.

Arrangement

Time: 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Date: Saturday, August 30, 2008

Location: Starbucks at Jinyan Road, Pudong, Shanghai, near the Science and Technology Museum. I have an article about the place here.

How to get there: Please also check the same article for instructinos.

What is a Meetup?

For my readers who don’t know what a meetup is, you can check the Q&A of my first meetup here: Wangjianshuo’s Blog Meetup. To be short, it is just an opportunity for the readers community to get together. It ranges from one person (just myself) to many, and I don’t know who will show up until that date.

For previous meetups, please see this archive page: meetup. If you plan to drop by, you are welcome to leave a comment below.

Looking forward to seeing you there and then.

Update about Yifan

Haha. This is some update from my cute son – Yifan. Yifan is already 14 months old, and he brought enormous happiness to use, along with many pleasant troubles.

Yifan Starts to Walk Now

Yifan starts to be able to walk several steps by himself. If I grasp his hand, he can walk around for half an hour. The only problem for me is, his walk is very random – completely flows with what he feels interested.

Once he followed a white cat from one side of the residential area to the other, and I followed him.

He loves to walk now, and he especially love to take stairs – up and down.

Yifan has never fall hardly to the ground so far with our perfect protection. Thee consequence is, he is so brave that his walk sometimes can only be possible on the moon. We have to remove out hands from him to keep him independent from us.

“Fixing” Yifan

Yifan’s temper has been worse and worse these two months. He has learned to use some tactics to get what he wanted. Mark said is very well: Kids of this age is expert of observation, and a quick learner.

At the very beginning, he cries to get what he wants. If that does not work, he cries loud…

Finally, cry does not work, since for many dangerous stuff like electricity or sharp things, we won’t allow him to touch no matter how hard he cries. And now, he invented something that is amazingly working so far – he started to knock his head to the floor! No one taught him, but I believe it is just by accident that he found out we care about this most – more than his cry. He also knock his head hard with his hand. OMG!

Recently, we have decided to “fix” his habit, and started to be tough to him. I am the person in the family to implement it. If he is not reasonable (crossing the line too much), I just hold him and bring him outside the room, and let him cry for 5 minutes. When I bring him back, he is much better.

However, I worry a lot that what I did seems to be right, but how hard it is to look at this darling to cry like the poorest kid in the world. I even wonder whether Yifan will hate me for doing that. One thing is for sure, if he has a choice, he prefer to stay with his more better than me….

It seems I need some serious advice about how to deal with kid of 1 year old.

Day Like This – Another Day

The Day like This Category

From time to time, I write articles in this category: day like this. It is a very unique category in my blog, because for these entries, I don’t have a determined topic in mind when I write it. I just want to record this particular day in my life, as detailed as possible, and as nature as possible. This way, many years later, I can browse with easy mind to see what my normal day is like many years ago.

Normal Saturday – A long Waited Break

This is a Saturday – a long waited Saturday for me. I felt very tired recently. I don’t know whether it is because of the hot weather, or the cold air condition in office, or because of the tough decisions I have to make in my business, I just felt very tired. One other reason maybe because I have not been on vacation for a long time. The last vacation i gave to myself was still 2 years ago in Australia, when we just had Yifan in Wendy’s belly.

I just feel I am too tired and I want to get a break. A vacation is badly needed. Seriously.

Sleep is my Routine at Weekend

I slept until 11:30 AM – a normal behavior at weekends. My dream was interrupted by Yifan’s cry from time to time in the morning. Wendy is taking care of him, so I can continue to my sleep. I said, I am a sleepy cat. I am! If no one interrupt me, my first time to open my eyes can be easily beyond noon time. For me, this Saturday was cut off by half already.

Dishuihu

We planned to visit the Dishuihu, our only Shangri-la in Shanghai and planned to stay one night there. However, the plan was canceled in the middle, because when we are ready to go, it is already afternoon.

Dishuihu is not very far from the city but it gives us a feeling of being far away. There are not too many things there beside a lake, a coffee shop and a Jinjiang Inn (a motel).

It Rains Dogs and Cats

When it rains, we were on the Outer Ring Road (the circle road outside the Middle Ring), it rained so heavily that the road is turned into a river. Even the left most lane is covered by deep water, and cars are like boat. Everyone is worried about their car and the risk for cars to break down in the middle. We pull over to the other road very quickly.

Visiting Friends

Finally, it turned out that we just visited our friends who just had a girl 20 days ago.

That is what we did today.

Lang Ping’s American Volleyball Team Beat China

Several minutes ago, just watched the game between the US Volleyball team beat China’s women volleyball team at 3:2. The scores are so close in the five sections:

23-25 (US-China)

25-22

23-25

25-20

15-11

It is another breath taking game – it seems most of the volleyball games in this Olympic involving both women and men are very close in score. We just saw one in the men’s volleyball the other day (China-Japan).

Lang Ping’s Role

Because of the US coach Lang Ping, the game has draw enormous attention. Lang Ping was and is still an icon for China. When China’s sports are not as strong as today back in 1980’s, Li Ning (who still had the honor to lit up the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony) and Lang Ping are the generation who won many gold medals for China. There is no wonder the Women’s Volleyball team and Lang Ping had been of such an important role in Chinese people’s heart. When I was young, the propaganda of “The Women’s Volleyball Team Spirit” has been the role model for the how country.

What an interesting moment it will be to see Lang Ping to lead American team to come to China and compete against Chinese team?

There is no surprise to see the negative comments for Lang Ping spread like wild fire in China’s BBS, and I expect it grows heavier in the days to come after China lost.

My 2 Cents

The most moving moment for me during the Olympic Games was, no matter how hard athletes compete in the game, most of them shake hands after the game, and will congratulate each other for the great results they got. I think that is the spirit of sports and Olympic. People compete under a fair rule, and people compete to be better self, and they celebrate together for reach a point that not many people came before – it is either higher, faster, or stronger (in ball games, and other games, people get smarter).

I felt a little bit unease during the China vs Japan game when the whole audience making discouraging noises whenever Japan players severed the ball. The noise in China’s theater means to invite the performer to leave the stage for bad play. It was so loud! In this China vs America game, for the whole game, it was OK, but at the last few points, the “go-away” noise raised when the America team served. I think it is understandable, but not rational.

Lang Ping has her personal decision and she is confident about her decision. I am a supporter of her on this issue. I think she is just like the 40 or something foreign coaches in China to coach the Chinese team – they are leading the world to make it stronger. Sports is not able winning a medal. It is all about being stronger, higher, and faster, and connect the people around the world.

If I had never put my step out of Henan province, I wouldn’t bear anyone born in Henan province to coach another provincial team to finally beat Henan team. It is the same. The barrier of country is much higher than province is, most of the people in the same country receive the similar education and have the similar mindset. The easy of travel and long time marriage, and migration within the country helps. I hope there is a more open world that people break the border of the country more, just for the sake of human being.

Good luck to the China’s volleyball game. I will be happy if they win a gold medal. Good luck to Lang Ping and her American volleyball game, and hope they enjoy their trip in Beijing. (P.S. I do feel sorry for the attack of the American tourists who are in association with the US women’s volleyball team. It is so bad that it happened.)

Interview by ChinaOnTV and CNReviews

If you are interested, here is a short video interview by ChinaOnTV and CNReviews:

Wang Jianshuo Interview: Shanghai’s Veteran Blogger (part II)

CNReviews has been kind enough to provide the transcript.

The first part of the interview is here, on CNReviews’ website:

Wang Jianshuo Interview: Shanghai’s Veteran Blogger (part I)

P.S. My friends in NBC told me that the shot in my home was still pending and didn’t broadcast in the NBC network in US yet. They have really hot ratings these days during the Olympic, and not-so-critical part may be postponed after the game.

Olympic is about Competition and Happiness

These days are really Olympic days in China. This is the 6th day of the game. I am happy to be in the host country, and I have experienced Olympic completely differently from the previous several games.

Time Zone Plays an Important Role

I believe the key reason besides the happiness to host the game is the time zone. For most of the Olympic games, or World Cup, or similar international games, they games are often in Europe and America, and that brings huge challenge for people to watch in real time. World cup is a good example, since everyone needs to watch the game after midnight in China.

This time, the Game is happening in real time – you can see the watch in the venue are in perfect sync with the watch on your hand. This brings huge convenience to audience.

When I go to restaurants, bars, shopping center, even massage places, they have their TV turned to Olympic real-time broadcast, and whenever possible, there will be many people (20 – 50) gather around it, and chear and applause from time to time. This experience is just unique.

Coverage of Chinese Athletes

This time China send the biggest delegate ever, and compete in many games. To have a team of my own country playing in the game is one of the very good reason to pay attention to a specific game.

I just watched the group preliminary volleyball game between China and Japan – China won at least at very close points. Games like this are breath taking since most of the games, the gap is so close and anything can happen. That kind of involvement is actually enjoyable and is a lot of fun.

Closeness to Olympic

I am in Shanghai, and even today, I am thinking whether I need to take one day or two days leave to visit Beijing to watch one game or two. It is close – it is just 2 hours away! Although you are not there, the kind of closeness it brings to people in China is very unique experience.

I am sure after Beijing hosting the Olympic, the spirit of Olympic is closer to people in China, which is about 1/5 of the earth’s population. At least I feel so. Good choice for the IOC to make in 2001

Fake Image in the Opening Ceremony

I’d like to add some note to the recent disclosed opening ceremony “scandal”. First is the big foot print. It turned out that the real time broadcast of the “foot print” is pre-recorded or computer created. The second is about the singer of “Ode to the motherland” lip-synced with the anonymous 7 year old singer behind her.

Ops. I was shocked when I know that. It is like after a athlete perfectly break a world record and then be tested as drug user. We would rather to have a not-so-perfect image than a “artificial” image. Meanwhile, I am not a complete protester for this yet, because whether the opening ceremony is part of the game or is a show is not certain. In film, and in theater, it is acceptable to use both techniques, but in Olympic… Hmmm… not 100% sure. I just feel it is not good.

Sacrifice and Collectivism

Behind the great ceremony, I am sure there are many sacrificers. To be part of the ceremony itself is maybe harder to get the gold medal in Olympic, if you consider the amount of people competing for the idea, the song, or the performance. The “Drum Play” part, for example, is selected from 500 similar ideas submitted throughout the country. They are the lucky one.

The other story is a dancer called Liu Yan. She fell from the top of the “big paper” one week before the show, and hit to the ground from 3 meters high. She almost lost her life. Luckily she is still alive, but she may not be able to standup for the rest of her life. I believe there are many such stories behind the show. There is a gap between people’s perception to this kind of “sacrificers” in western and Chinese culture. Chinese are now still collectivism, and to sacrifice for the good of the nation, the group, or more people is treated as a great thing to do – the same in Japan and other Asia countries. In individualism culture, sacrifice is also a good thing as long as it is because of PERSONAL motivation or to realize one’s personal dream…. I see big gap here. I think I am already very westernized by being exposed to my friends and readers of this blog, but I still see the value of people contributing to something big.

That is also a key difference this ceremony demoed to the world.

Just like the ceremony showed the thousands of years’ history and set the order by Chinese character strokes, there are unique way of doing things in this country. I thinking it is important for the world to realize it to be able to understand China better. At the same time, China needs to improve itself. In the “game of history”, China has been left behind in the last two centuries, and to catch up quickly is the key for China in the 21st century.

Just my 2 cents about what I thinking around Olympic in the last week.

One Ceremony, Many Perceiptions

I talked with my native American friend over the coffee today. I asked about his comments on the Opening Ceremony.

As many people, he said the ceremony is great, and amazing… just like many people feel. He particularly mentioned that he was at bar in Shanghai with many foreigners. Many of them didn’t believe there are people behind the MovableType part, until the last minute. He said this kind of show is very hard to create in western world. Later, he said, “maybe Germany” – I was very caustious when I heard about it, because I did have the same feeling to connect the “everyone the same, country first, power centric” show with the Berlin Olympic. I will talk about it later in another article. (Don’t worry. Anything can be seen from different angle and reflect differnet result, just like the Elephant and Bindmen story, and this wonderful opening ceremony is not an exception)

Besides that, he mentioned some interesting points that I didn’t thought of before.

Why It is the Army who Raised the Chinese National Flag

One of the question he asked was completely out of my expectation. He asked:

Why at the begining of the ceremony, it is some military service people who raised the national flag of China? Is it a signal sending to the domestic military that “you are very important, so we put you into the most visible location? Or is it a signal to show to the world a powerful military force?

I said no-no-no. In Chinese ceremony like this, it is ALWAYS the military people who raise the national flag, just like in the 1997 Hong Kong take-over. For me, it is the first part that many children took the flag that surprised me a lot – just the other way. If it is perceived this way, I think there is big misunderstanding.

Anything Else

I believe there must be many other misunderstanding like this for the ceremony. What is your favorite piece? I’d like to hear your “questions marks” for the event and help to explain some of it.

The Chinese Elements – Part II

This is the second part of the series, Chinese Elements in the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The Character He 和, or Peace

During the MovableType show (don’t confuse it with the software I am using to write this blog), the Chinese character of “He” or 和 was shown three time.

Image credit: Getty via Yahoo

和 is written in Pinyin Chinese as He, but it is pronounced more similar with the English word: Her.

The character means peace, and harmony. The character does not really look like the one I displayed in this blog entry (if you have the Chinese system to show it. It is because the Chinese characters change its shape over the one thousand year. A good way to think about it is the English letter have different font. Some are pretty similiar with each other, but for some particular letters, the variation is big. For example, the letter E may have completely different way to write it in different handwriting fonts. The difference in Chinese is, there are several thousands characters and each has the tens of varations.

The Order of the Delegation Entrance

One of the most funny part of the ceremony was the entrance order of the delegates. It is maybe one of the few events in the Olympic history, or the recent world events that the order was completely taken with the Chinese way.

I believe many of my friends (I especially have my extended family member, Carrol and Jim in my mind when I write this article) may wonder: “What is the confusing order?” I can understand when people see each country’s delegation enter the stadium, the order seemed to be random if you don’t know Chinese. Let me try to explain this way.

Althogh the Chinese character seems very complicated, it also has the forming elements. Just like 26 letters are the basis of all English words, there are strokes that makes up a Chinese character.

Chinese has many different type of strokes, but most of them can be classified as the following five types:

Horizontal Stroke, like 一

Vertical Stroke like 丨

Leaning Stroke like 丿

Dot stroke like 丶

Turning Storke like 乛

(This is completely my own translation, and I believe the Chinese textbook for foreigners may have better commonly accpeted translation).

Take the Chinese numbers I mentioned in my previous article, one requires one horizontal stroke, and two are made up of two…

My last name 王 is made up of three horizontal strokes (like a three 三), but with a horizontal stroke in the middle. So, there are four strokes to this Chinese character.

This page provided wonderful way for you to understand how each character is writen.

Something to note is, how the character is writen has strict rules. Although the final result is the same, how you write the character does matter. Taking the example of 王 (Wang), you may want to write the first horizontal stroke and add the vertical one. Wrong! The right way is write the first two horizontal strokes, and write the vertical one, and finish the character with the last horizontal stroke. Complicated? How Chinese remember it and the billions of people write the character the same way? It is all by memorizing it one by one from very young children.

Here is how the character Wang was written: Stroke order of Wang. (Click the left bottom blue button, and then the right top blue button for the animation to start).

Well. Enough about Chinese characters. This time, the entrance order was determined by the strokes for the Chinese characters for the country/region name.

Image credit: Beijing2008.cn. In the image, the first charcter is 4 strokes, and the second one is 5 strokes

Australia, for example, is typically No. 3 to enter the venue, but this time, because the first character of the Chinese name: 澳大利亚 took 15 strokes to write, so it is the 203rd country to appear.

Romantic Chinese

There are many elements in the event that shows the romatic side of typically regarded as “serious” Chinese characteristics. Here are some: scenes:

  • The initial video of how paper is made (if you visit towns like Lijiang, Yunan Province and many other places, you have the chance to create your own paper from plant roots. I did it before)
  • The Chinese paintings
  • The dream of flying out to the space, and the beautiful fairy lady flying in the sky
  • Li Ning flied high in the sky with a moon like spotlight following him

All the flying elements are not created just for this event. It is seen in many places throughout the history of China. It also reminds me (a native Chinese) about how romatic our ancesters are. It is just the tough time in the recent centuaries that turned the nation into really over down-to-earth, and reality-driven mentality.

Anything Else?

There are just too many Chinese elements in this show that is hard for me to list. Anyone wants to add more and share your thoughts with our kind readers from outside China? I hope this is a great chance for people outside China to learn this nation a little bit more than 100% human rights, Tibet, freedom of speech, censorship topics. These topics will continue and need to continue, but just as Olympic gives the world a break, let’s give China a break.

The Chinese Elements in the Ceremony

After the Opening Ceremony of XXIX Olympic Games in Beijing is over for 48 hours, I am thinking about the little difference people in China and foreign audience may react to the same event. I believe there must be some difference because of the different cultural background, and difference in other experiences. For example, the Chinese may react a little bit more modest to the event than the western viewers because people get used to the scene of many actors lining up as a matrix and doing exactly the same thing, while many people in the west didn’t often seen such arrangement, especially in this large scale.

Besides that, there are many points that made the ceremony received better for Chinese than for foreigners. It is all about the cultural meaning of many arrangement. Let me try to explain some of them to my foreign readers. However, no matter how hard I try, my explanation is far from professional level.

The Opening – the Drums

The very impressive 2008 people hitting drums, and did the count down was reported as “Drum Show” in many media. Actually, what they were hitting was not drum. It is called Fou (缶). It is the ancient Chinese container for wine. In the Qin Dynasty (200 BC), people start to hit the Fou to express welcome to friends, especially for friends from far away.

While they hit the drums (let me still call it drum for the time being), they are reciting the famous quote from Confusion: “有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎?”, or using direct translation: “Friends coming from far away, isn’t it happy enough?”, or a better translation: “Welcome friends from the world”.

Image Credit: Getty

Image Credit: Getty

Don’t worry. No matter you see the meaning behind it or just see it as many people playing drum, it is the same thing – you get the idea of welcome anyway.

The Count Down

It is funny to see the final 10 count down was displayed in both Chinese and number:

Image Credit: REUTERS/David Gray

As shown on the picture above, at the lower side, it is number “1”, and on the top, it is Chinese for number 1: “一”, in the shape of —

Here is the table of Chinese characters and numbers:

一 1

二 2

三 3

四 4

五 5

六 6

七 7

八 8

九 9

The interesting entry level characters are one, two, three. Chinese is simple enough to have one stroke as one, two horizontal stroke as two, and three strokes as three. (See more explanation in my article “Chinese Characters“). Stop here, since four is not four horizontal strokes.

The MovableType

I believe most people may have recognized what this is:

Image credit: Getty

As shown on the picture above, on top of each pole are a reversed Chinese character. If you haven’t seen Movable Type by yourself, you can imagine it is a huge Chinese typewriter. English only have 26 letters with upper case, and lower case, and some symbols. An English typewriter may have less than 100 different types. A Chinese type writer that we use contains thousands of characters. The Movable Type technology was invented in Song Dynasty in the year of 1040.

Image credit: Wikipedia

This article continous here: The Chinese Elements in the Ceremony – Part II

Foreign Media’s Response to the Opening

I collected some report from foreign medias.

Reuters

World media hails Beijing’s perfect night

Beijing’s Olympic opening extravaganza drew rave reviews on Friday from media around the world awed by rich displays of Chinese culture that eclipsed controversy that has surrounded the city’s hosting of the Games.

For me, I wrote many article about the “negative” impact the Olympic brought to the people, including me. However, I found people are much more emotional than rational. Although the debate, and the concerns will get back, and it must for a really greater and better country, at least at the night of the opening ceremony, I feel very excited, and felt the same way as Reuters reporter.

BBC

BBC expressed the same opinion with this article: Spectators awed as Games begin

Beijing’s big moment has already been dogged with controversy about air pollution, China’s human rights record and media freedom.

But the arguments were briefly forgotten during a truly spectacular opening ceremony watched by millions around the globe.

Fair enough. Personally, as I said, the moment is just about happiness and everyone using the common language to communicate, more than anything else. The event cannot solve all the problem (it can hardly solve any) but it is the time for people to temporarily forget it for a while – maybe just 4 hours. It is already very precious gift for the world.

Edmonton Sun

I love the ceremony, but I didn’t get the point when people love it THAT much, and even claiming there will be no better thing than it. At the beginning of the columnist article, Olympic opening ceremonies the best ever, Terry Jones said:

BEIJING – If any future Olympic Games is ever credited with a more awesome, brilliant, inspired, powerful or original opening ceremonies it might have to be because everybody on the planet developed amnesia

I would say the ceremony is great, but I do expect someone to do it better in the future. Just like any memorable event or world record in the sports history, people once thought it is the highest, the strongest, or the fastest, but world record is always broken in the days to come. That is the spirit of Olympics, isn’t it?

Media

Media is just media. They have professional skills to report something in a way that is just too professional for people to get the real idea. I’d be more interested in what my readers view the event.

P.S. I didn’t read the Chinese media for it, since it is 100% sure that they say it is a great event.

Going to Shanghai Olympic Football Game

Ticketing Office

The ticketing office is not as crowded as I thought. Maybe it is because of the very long time of ticket selling. You can get there and take a ticket without lining up.

When I get to the ticket office, half of the tickets have been sold up. Most of the men’s football tickets have been sold out, and most of the women football tickets are still available.

Sign of the ticket counter, and entrance.

This is my ticket. It is not very expensive – 100 RMB per person. It is class D ticket, the cheapest ticket in that game. I am not a serious football fan. I just thought that I should experience at least one Olympic Game when the game is running in my city.

The game is on August 18th, 2008. It is women’s quarter-final.

I am Looking Forward It

I am looking forward to seeing the game 10 days later with Wendy, and my parents. I am still thinking about whether we should bring Yifan there. I tend to do it, but just thinking about how to solve the logistic problems, and whether Yifan will be scared by the game.

This is the venue – the Shanghai Stadium. Many soccer games happen here.

Interesting Comments on the Ceremony

I saw two interesting comments about the game. The first is from Charles Robinson on Yahoo!:

Maybe the only way to understand how fulfilling the 2008 Opening Ceremony was is to think four years in advance to the 2012 games, and pity the city of London. The planning committee from those Games was in attendance last night. And you can bet whoever is in charge of the ceremony there was sitting on a floor with his head in his hands.

No worries. When the Athens Olympic opened, it was the same worry for me. I thought the Athens 2004 Olympic Opening was wonderful and hard to be better. Last night’s show proved that it is even better (at least from my point of view).

The second note was from Stephen Orlins.

Stephen Orlins, President of the National Committee of US China Relationship since 2005 wrote on his postcard to the YLFers:

From the opening of the new U.S. Embassy compound this morning at 8:08 a.m. until leaving for the opening ceremony at 5:00 p.m., I witnessed a deserted Beijing. Pedestrians were missing, businesses were closed (even the local Pacific Coffee) and foreigners were nearly as numerous as Chinese. The lack of traffic reminded me of the Beijing of 1979, except that there were no bicycles and road closures abounded.