Monthly Archives: September 2010

Shanghai to Hangzhou via Hangzhou Bay Bridge?

The question reads:

Jian,

I have tried everywhere to find if we can do a trip from Shanghai to Hangzhou, staying overnight and coming back to Shanghai via the Hangzhou Bay bridge. Is it possible if we took an early D train to Ningbo and then made our way over the bridge by bus or cab? Any suggestions you have would be more than welcome.

The short answer is, you don’t to go over the Hangzhou Bay Bridge from Shanghai to Hangzhou. Actually, there is no need to use that bridge from any where in the world to get to Hangzhou.

Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Ningbo form a big triangle around the Hangzhou Bay. Hangzhou and Ningbo are on the east, and Hangzhou is on the west. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge connects Shanghai and Ningbo, by passing Hangzhou.

map-hangzhou.bay.bridge.png

So, if you want to go from Shanghai to Ningbo, the Bay Bridge is the best choice.

Shanghai to Hangzhou Highspeed Train

The Shanghai to Hangzhou Highspeed Train will officially launch at the later half of October, 2010. Today, the headline news is, the train experimented to run at 416.6 km/hour (259 miles/hour).

At commercial operation, the train will link Shanghai and Hangzhou. It takes about 40 minutes to get to Hangzhou from Shanghai Hong Qiao Railway Station, running at 350 km/hour (217 miles/hour). The current D-Train, the fastest, is about 2 hours.

It seems we can take the high-speed train for our meeting in early November in Hangzhou.

I am embarrassed that, as a blogger, I still didn’t experienced the new high-speed train. Before I am aware of it, the high-speed train system has run 7055 km. Well. When did I first heard of the concept of high-speed train in China? 5 years ago, I guess.

I will send back report when I personally experience it.

I do have two photos to share. It is taken on the way back from Weihai to Shanghai.

I GUESS, the photo below is picture of a station along the train line.

Below is the bird’s view of the line. I GUESS it is the highspeed train line because – it is very straight – to keep it as straight as possible so trains can run really fast, and it is all the way elevated.

Apple Flagship Store in Shanghai

The second day I am back from Singapore, I had a lunch meeting in Shangri-la, and after the meeting, I went to the Apple Flagship Store in Shanghai.

The store is located near the Grand Brand Mall, just the other side of the Pearl TV Tower. It is at basement of the International Financial Center (IFC) complex, near the LV flagship store.

Here is the entrance – the feeling is just like the glass entrance of the Louvre.

The rotating stairs are the perfect stage for the several hour queuing at Apple Store yesterday, for the first day of Apple iPhone 4 release in China.

From the inside, since Apple’s product is so consistent, and so few types, a visit to that particular store is just a visit to the store itself, which is not very different from the others.

My Friends in Singapore

Here are some nice group photo.

A nice working lunch with faculty and students from School of Computer, National University of Singapore.

After the talk to students.

Meeting with NUS Entrepreneur Alumni at Soc, NUS

Meeting with MDA.

Below is the time of the lecture:

Meetings in Singapore

Meetings include:

  • Meeting with faculties in National University of Singapore
  • Workshop on China’s Internet – The room will filled with 300 students with another same size room broadcasting the video
  • Meeting with Infocomm Development Agency
  • Meeting with Media Development Agency
  • Meeting with Temasek
  • Meeting with NUS alumni
  • Meeting with computer department of NUS.

There are other smaller meetings in it. I love my Singapore trip. Here are some photos.

Below: A cool demo by a company invested by MDA.

P.S. the F1 will be held inside the city tomorrow, roughly at the time I am flying above Vietnam.

Singapore Pte Ltd

I joked with Prof. Juzar on the way to dinner, that I found myself on the campus of a big company called “Singapore Pte Ltd” these days. Some people joked that the president of China acts as CEO of China Limited Corparation. I felt more so in Singapore. I formed the impression from the interaction with the government agencies, universities, and private sectors, and some ideas comes from the autobiography of Lee Kuan Yew.

The National University of Singapore campus

It is obvious to me that the whole Singapore acted as one single company. The government, the universities, and the private sectors worked so well, just like the different teams in a big company. Universities can be the HR department, while the government can be the legal and finance depart, with the private sector act as R&D, and business develop organization.

One example is the way they acquire talent. In the lecture this afternoon, Prof. Tan asked how many students are Chinese. About 70-80% in the room raised their hand. I asked Prof. Tan what is the definition of Chinese students, he said, they are very likely to be from mainland China. After chatting more on this topic, I understand that the Singapore government sponsors the university to offer full scholarship to the students to attract them to study in Singapore (most of them are the best from the Tsinghua, Peking or SJTU). Most of the students stayed in Singapore, and contribute to this newly emerged economy. Think about it. It is just like the scholarship and internship program we are trying to run on campus – but Singapore is running it as a country.

From the different organizations and programs, I can feel the passion the government is trying to foster entrepreneurship. Developing the people is one of the four key strategies for iDa (Infocom Development Agency), and the key driver for School of Computer in National University of Singapore, and very likely to be key strategy for all universities here.

Take the workshop of this afternoon. The NUS sponsored the air-ticket and the hotel for the panels from Shanghai. What an effort! If the conference can help to accelerate one successful entrepreneurs out of the audience, that quite pays back everything.

From the autobiography of Lee Kuan Yew, they are using this effort to attract few hundred best students from around the world. Not a big number, in China scale (well, in China, people are talking about students in terms of million), but it is so critical for Singapore, especially when we consider the quality of the people they attract.

Obviously, Singapore has a clear strategy to attract and keep the world’s best talents. How about China?

P.S. The workshop went on very well. I enjoyed the conversation, and impressed by the sharp questions people asked. In case you are among the audience, and we didn’t have a chance to exchange name card, you can find my contact information on the right side of my blog homepage.

P.S. 2. During the presentation, prof. Tan quoted two “Singapore styles” – one is using mixed language to present the talk (English or Chinese or combined), and the other one is to keep the order by queuing after the microphone. If a country or company formed certain style that people living within can recognize and actively promote it, it is called a new culture.

Singapore Second Impression

I am at Orchard Hotel at Singapore, on the famous Orchard road.

This is my “second impression” of Singapore – the first impression was about 10 years ago.

1. Singapore is far from China. I was surprised that there is no time difference after 5 hours’ of flight. Then with the help of a map, I figured out that it is at the same longitude with Kunming in China, only moved to 1 degree north near the equation. That was my major mistake, since I always thought Singapore is somewhere very west.

2. I read the autobiography of its formal prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. The development of Singapore is very unique, and not replicable.

3. Singapore is small. Xiamen is maybe one of the small cities that is like Singapore – It is also on an island. Singapore’s surface is 710.2 sq km, and Xiamen, is 1,565 sq km, about twice the size. Singapore has about 4 million people, while, in China, there are 39 cities with urban population more than 4 million. If we count the rural populations under those cities, the list can be longer (the 30th largest cities in total population, Tangshan, has 7 million people). So, it again reminds me to put things into perspective, and don’t simply transplant rules in Singapore to China.

4. Having said that, I found there are many great ideas and learning from the experience of Singapore, like the greenization effort, and using English as a comprise for all the people there.

5. Singapore airport is still the best airport, and they are trying harder. I was selected as a participant in their usability test. Two college age girls followed me to tour the airport, and asked interview questions to me about how to improve the airport.

6. The people I met, mainly in airport, and hotels, are very friendly. They speak different languages. The reception who looks like Chinese does not speak Chinese at all. They are from Philippines. The FAQ in my mind was, what language the person is speaking in. Lerry even got confused when waiter speak Chinese to him: “Which language she was using?”

7. I was completely blew away 10 years ago on Orchard road. Now, with more big shops like the new LV flagship store, I just don’t feel more excited than Huaihai Road, and Nanjing West Road. Singapore is great, but I am growing up, and my standard changes.

8. Thanks Prof. Tan for the great arrangement, and picking us at the airport. I felt very welcomed, and taken good care of. Looking forward to talking with about 300 students in National University of Singapore tomorrow.

Beijing Traffic Jam on Wide Roads

Check out how wide the road of Beijing is, and how terrible the traffic jam of today. Thanks to lee who posted this to the Internet:

copyright: Lee from t.sina.com.cn

Yes. Beijing has a problem in transportation now.

Update and Correction

People sent me message and tell me it is not like Beijing. At a closer look, I believe so. Sorry for posting confusing message, and it is the time to re-enforce my rule on this blog: only post something I personally see.

Injected the Measles Vaccine

Following up the question: Shall I Sign for Measles Vaccine, here is the update. We finally signed the letter, and had Yifan injected the Measles Vaccine.

Few days before, immediately after Beijing reassured everyone that it is voluntary, the kindergarten Yifan attended posted a poster and said, it is mandatory. Although they offered a form of two choices, they said any claim not to inject will be invalid, and should be chose again…. The kindergarten closed at 12:00 at noon in Friday, and ask parents to bring their kids to do the injection.

So, based on the information I collected, although not 100% sure, we feel OK to have it. Hope everything is fine. If anything happens, it is about 100 million kids that we are talking about.

Singapore e-Visa

I was impressed by the efficiency of Singapore government. They issued an e-visa the second day after I submitted the application, although the standard processing time is 3 days – an example of “under promising, over delivering”.

The e-visa is just a printed paper (just needed for airlines to check-in). The real visa is in the computer system, and will be validated with my passport.

The visa fee is 153 RMB (30 S’$). It is valid of two years, and multi-entry.

Good. I am happy that I can visit Singapore at any time. If there is cheaper airline ticket, that will be better.

If you are interested in the event I am going to participate, check here. Thanks for the kind sponsorship from the School of Computing of National University of Singapore for the trip.

This will be my second trip to Singapore, with the first one about 10 years ago.

Why Chinese Citizen Needs Visa Everywhere

I got an invitation from Prof. Tang (via Mingliang and Hua) of National University of Singapore to deliver a talk on a seminar there. Then, I visited the Singapore visa office very early in the morning to get a visa. Every time I apply for a visa, either for United States, Australia, Singapore, or other places, I cannot stop wondering why Chinese citizens need to apply visa for almost every country existing on this planet.

Henley Visa Restriction Index

Here is the Henley Visa Restriction Index of 2010. The score means the number of countries and territories which can be entered without a visa by a citizen of the respective country

Rank Score

1 United Kingdom 166

2 Denmark 164

3 Sweden 163

4 Finland 162

4 Luxembourg 162

5 France 161

5 Germany 161

5 Italy 161

5 Netherlands 161

6 Belgium 160

6 Japan 160

6 Spain 160

7 Ireland 159

7 Norway 159

7 United States 159

8 Austria 158

8 Portugal 158

9 Australia 157

9 Canada 157

9 New Zealand 157

10 Switzerland 156

11 Singapore 155

12 Greece 153

13 Iceland 151

13 South Korea 151

13 Malaysia 151

14 Liechtenstein 147

15 Malta 146

19 Hong Kong 140

25 Israel 133

28 Brazil 130

31 St. Kitts and Nevis 121

47 South Africa 88

48 Montenegro 86

49 Russian Federation 83

51 Dominica 80

65 United Arab Emirates 64

69 Thailand 60

71 India 57

74 Bosnia and Herzegowina 53

77 India 50

84 Egypt 43

84 Vietnam 43

88 Nepal 38

88 China 38

90 Pakistan 36

92 Iran 34

94 Lebanon 32

98 Afghanistan 26

China ranks 88 in all the countries, a little bit better (but not not significantly) than Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran, and Pakistan.

What’s up?

I am interested to know what are the 38 countries/territories that gives free visa access to Chinese citizen. I checked the list, and didn’t find too many countries I am familiar with. A note said, China was on their list mainly because they give free access to every country, so China was not intentionally excluded.

What is the reason? Can anyone familiar with this matter share some ideas about it?

My guess is, the root cause is the Chinese government. Currently, the only countries that China gives visa free status are: Negro Brunei Darussalam 文莱, Singapore and Japan. The visa free period is as short as 15 days.

Visa free status should be equal. If China requires visa for citizens of another countries, the common case is, they need to do the same, unless some countries who really don’t care about the diploma affairs.

Why China require visa? That is an even harder question to answer. I only knows the government even requires visa to its own territory like Hong Kong, Macau, and previous Shenzhen. Well, the politically correct version of visa is, the Hong Kong, Macau Pass – which can be only applied to another passport like booklet, but not passport – and adding additional burden and waste.

China also have the established Hukou system to effectively create a visa system within the country. People move harder within the country than most people moving across countries, and sometimes, it is harder to do it for Chinese citizen to move to another city than moving to another country (for example, moving to Shanghai is harder than moving to Canada and Singapore).

With that tradition, I believe it will take long enough for China to waive its visa for other countries, and longer for other countries to wave its visa requirements.

Photos of Hong Qiao Railway Station

I didn’t make a mistake here. It is NOT Hong Qiao Airport, it is the Hong Qiao Railway Station.

Before many people know it, the Hong Qiao Railway Station at the new Hong Qiao Airport Terminal 2 has operated for quite some time. It is the new station serving the highspeed trains from Shanghai to Nanjing, Hangzhou, Beijing and future destinations.

Location

It is exactly at the west side of the Hongqiao Airport Terminal 2. It shares the same building with the Hong Qiao Transition Center (Metro Line #2, and Line #10, and future Maglev, if they are lucky to be able to build it), and the T2. You can basically walk from the railway train station to the Hong Qiao airport terminal 2, but it is a pretty long walk. You can also take the Metro for one stop (got the idea about how far it is to talk at the basement of the building?)

How many Train Stations in Shanghai?

There are many, but only three of them really matters.

The Shanghai Railway Station, which serves most of trains from the north and west for Shanghai; the Shanghai South Railway Station, which serves most trains from the south, and the Hong Qiao Railway Station, which is built just for the high-speed trains. They are not strictly divided by destination. So do check your ticket before get onboard a taxi or metro train.

The Photos

This train station is, again, as most Chinese buildings, the newest, biggest, and nicer train station, even better than the recently build modern Shanghai South Railway Station.

Below is the B1 level of the station, where all passengers arrive. Unlike all the design of train station I saw in China, this tunnel is not just a tunnel. It is a shopping center by itself. On the right hand, you can see a row of glass doors. That are the exit from each platform, and on the left, are the food court, and shops.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

The departure area of the station is at level 2. It is a big area of seats, with check-in gates arranged on the both side. Thanks to the transparent high ceiling, it is pretty pleasant to wait there for a train trip.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

From the top, where they have a McDonald’s floating somewhere near the ceiling, you can see the seats better.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

This is the McDonald’s I was talking about – hard to recognize – somewhere near the ceiling.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

From the middle of the runway on the top, it is a symmetric view.

Hong Qiao Long Distance Bus Station

Besides the Hongqiao Airport, Maglev Station, Metro Station, and Railway Station, it is also a big Long Distance Bus Station. Here is the roof of the station, which is on the west side of Railway Station.

The ticketing office is at the B1 of the station – passengers can directly get here after getting off train.

Good luck!

8 Years of Blogging

I almost forgot about the 8 years of blogging anniversary if my reader hadn’t notified me about it. We should celebrate it a little bit, right? (Well, as always, I don’t want to be too high-profile of it due to our respect to the people who lost their lives in 911 – The two days are just co-incidentally the same).

8 years – about 10% of one’s life – with daily blogging. Isn’t it crazy?

Shall I Sign for Measles Vaccine

Yifan got a letter to parent from kindergarten. It is about a sudden action to inject Measles Vaccine for the upcoming nationwide measles immunization campaign. That was a big shock to me.

Only after I got the letter that I realized that it is not just for Yifan. Parents of more than 100 million children in China received the same letter, and the deadline for signing the letter is just tomorrow. There are about 3 days for us to decide whether to accept it.

I was very shocked that a campaign involving 1/60 people on this plant, and all of them are just between 8 months, to 4 years old, just come out so quickly, and quietly, and the deadline is just tomorrow. That of caused caused panic among parents. All kinds of rumor started to spread like wild fire in the parent community, suggesting not to sign it.

This happens at the background that people’s trust in the health system has maybe reached to the lowest point in history. The poison milk, the AIDS infection from injection, and recent early-mature of kids… We don’t have much confidence that it is safe to inject anything the government requires. Ironically, my panic does not stop when the spokesman from Beijing claimed it is absolutely safe – the memory of “There is absolutely no SARS” was just 7 years ago.

What decision shall I make for Yifan?

How Startups Enter China?

My friend asked me a question:

It is stupid to ignore China market for any startup. What is your suggest for startups to enter China market?

My quick answer is: Don’t.

My alternative suggestion is, enter China market by putting your headquarter in China.

I have many successful entrepreneur friends in the Silicon Valley, who don’t have China presence yet (and I suggested them not to do it), and I also know some great American in Shanghai who have amazing business in China. In contrary, I also know many of my local friends who were laid off after working for the Shanghai branch offices for startups in US, or Europe.

Why is that?

Startups are constrained by resources. With resources, I mean in terms of people and money. It is NOT constrained by market size. Either US or China is big enough, way to big for a startup to explore. Concentrate in one market, and setup the model before expansion.

The more important question to ask is, whether you want to start up the company in US, or in China.

Advanced Asphalt Road Paving System

At Haibin North Road 海滨北路 of Weihai, I saw the most advanced road paving system I have ever seen.

The system consists of many big machines, lining up for about 200 meters. It completely automated the work to pave a new Asphalt road. The whole army of trucks moved slowly, but after them, the old broken Asphalt is turned into new and ready to use road.

This is how it works.

The machines on the trucks at the front use fire to burn the existing asphalt surface of the road, to make it soft.

Then a big machine dig the old asphalt out, and put it into the middle of the road.

The old asphalt will be mixed with some new.

The mixed raw asphalt will be transferred to the top to continue to heat.

Then it will be put into the road again and heated on the road.

Finally, a road roller will be responsible to pave the whole road.

Look – shining new road is ready!

They work on one lane at a time. After few hours, the whole road is ready, and will be opened to traffic the second day.