Many Events in Shanghai

Today, the Torch for Special Olympics arrives in Shanghai. I saw the real time broadcast on TV.

The Women’s World Cup is final today in Shanghai. German wins.

The National Holiday celebration started from tonight, and traffic control was put in place. Cars are not allowed in many major locations.

There are fireworks in Century Park. “People Mountain People Sea” there.

Rain Memories of New York

Today, I saw some random photos in my hard disk. These photos instantly brought those memories of three years ago. That was Dec 23, 2004, just before Christmas.

Look at the rain, the lights, the traffic, the streets, the buildings, the taxis… all these things are very typical to the city of New York.

Some Thoughts about War and History

I didn’t mention too much about this topic, but the recent discussion on Fight Between Foreigners and Local led to heated discussion, and I was touched by the depth of the thinking. Then in response to some of the comments, I talked a little bit about my thoughts about war (especially the WWII), and the recent anti-Japanese movement (which I think is a little bit out of track).

Again, I am open to your continuous input. As I always believe, the more facts and perspective we collect, the more likely we are closer to completeness (although I don’t think we can reach it.)

About Japan Text Book

@ling,

“However, I still cannot accept how the Japanese (most of them) can blatantly attempt to rewrite history and refuse to apologise.”

Where are your facts on how MOST Japanese blatantly attempt to rewrite history? If you’re talking about the revised textbooks, a vast majority of schools REFUSED to use them. Is that what you’re talking about? Also, no Japanese person who was not involved in the war of aggression (IE, basically all Japanese under the age of 65) owes ANYONE an apology. The disaster wrought upon Asia by the Japanese imperial army was a travesty, yes, but it was in the past. People shouldn’t have to apologize for crimes they didn’t commit.

Posted by: Steve on September 26, 2007 2:13 PM

@Steve, I agree with you on this part. I stood exactly the same side of the massive crowd in China before on the issue of text books in Japan, but recently, after really seeking for the truth, and I know more about the text book issue. Just as you said, it is one version out of many versions of textbook, and it is not government appointed text book (not like China). It is not widely accepted and it does not represent the majority. It is the local media itself twisted the fact and create something far from the fact.

Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang (external link) on September 26, 2007 3:40 PM

Who is Covering the History?

@Jian Shuo

So just what are the Japanese are teaching their kids about the war ??

Is it glazed over by two sentences ? or nothing at all ?

Why are the youths always surprised when they visit sites around memorial sites around Asia regarding the war ? Why are they when told always expressed shock at what their country did ?

All I know is that when their minister commented that the bomb had to be dropped to end the war, it caused a huge uproar in their country. Why ?

Why is it that until today, more events were organised for the victims of the bomb than the people they slauthered in Asia ??

Just my 2 cents

Posted by: wonton on September 26, 2007 7:11 PM

@wonton, this is useful observation. By stating that the text book issue is not completely as many media reports, I am not saying that Japan is doing a good job. The situation you mentioned is true, since people in Japan don’t know too much about history, especially those younger generations, and about the WWII part. I think it is the right thing for other Asian countries to keep speaking loudly about what the truth of history is and showing the evidences. History makes future, and we have to be respectful to history, and let it reminds us all the way to the future.

However, I do think that we are doing a even worse job than Japan about history in China. If there are just few places mentioning wrong facts (or just ignoring the facts) in Japanese textbook, there are pages and pages of wrong facts and stories in Chinese textbook. I was also shocked (maybe even more shocked than people in Japan to see their history) to face the history of my OWN country. Talking about the China’s role in Korean war, China’s role in Anti-Vietnam War, do we know what we did outside China?

For what happened inside China in the last few decades, we know even less. Many history in China has already been burned into dust for many younger people, even the history is just as recent as 20 years. We are still using very inappropriate names to refer to our own part of the history.

Also, for the aggression of Japan into China, I believe we should focus on what is the structure of government in Japan at that time that leads to the war, what mentality leads to war, and what we can do to keep peace. We should also (both China and Japan) should re-examine what is in the current society that seems like the seeds for another war. That is the more important thing to think about.

Unfortunately, the current education about history is all about hate. The education is something like: “they killed many of our people. Let’s remind this hate forever, and never, never forgive them…” I don’t like this kind of attitude, since if this kind of hate spread widely enough, this may just leads to another war. We did exactly the opposite from what we should learn from the bloody history.

I am not thinking Japan has done enough, but that is not the excuse for us (China) to do the same thing.

Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang (external link) on September 26, 2007 7:33 PM

Who is the Victim?

@Jian Shuo

Don’t believe everything you read.

The history of the opium war written in 1850s will be very different from the one written in 2007.

The view outside China may be different from within.

Perhaps, like you said, they are different parts of an elephant.

For example, Saddam Hussien is generally regarded as somekind of monster by many western countries. But he was able to provide peace to much of his country, and prevent sectarian bloodshed. Something the Americans were unable to do. Is the country better off now?? I’m sure from W. Bush’s point of view, I’s a great improvement. I am not saying that the killing of Kurds was an excusable crime. But whatever in Saddam’s reasons, we will never know. But it is interesting to note that even Iraq’s neighbour Turkey is afraid of them (Kurds). A hundred years from now the view might be quite different.

Stephen wrote : “Japanese Imperialism is to seek better livelihood for her nationals in the era of great depression.” Perhaps so, but it certainly does not include developing germ warfare and testing it on the vanquished, neither does it include mass killings of the Chinese throughout Asia. It would be so easy to just say ‘lets move on”

What I am concerned about the Japanese is that without an admission of responsibility and the absence of education, Imperialism will rise it’s ugly head again. Not possible ? happened twice in Germany. I don’t think there will be a third because the people did the right thing. Nazism is widely reject because of education.

I have no problems with the Japanese born either before or after the war. Most were not involved. And many responsible are dead or will be soon. But I am concerned about the tales that are spun in their popular culture turning disgrace into heroism. Celebrating the soldier’s samurai spirit, while continuing to wrap themselves as “victims” just like everyone else.

Can anyone blame China for building up it’s army and freak out everytime Japan flex it’s military might ?

Just WHO are the victims of the war ??

The bully who got slapped in return ???

@wonton, exactly. No one should fully believe in what he/she reads, no matter it is in China or outside China. However, different point of views (as stated in the book Mao or other English books by Chinese) does help me (at least) to re-think about history. That is why we need free flow of information.

I agree with the part you said about Japan. Education should be strengthen to prevent the war again. Peace is so precious. Everyone knows it, but it is harder than people’s imagination to keep it. If anyone say it is easy, look at the war everywhere, and the potential war by the inclining attitude toward war around us.

For your last question, “WHO are the victims of the war?”, my answer is (let me put disclaimer here: it may be controversial), both the Chinese people and the Japanese people are the victim of the war.

I want to say, the normal people in Japan or German are also victim of the crazy thing done by those people who control government or military. They also suffer a lot during the war. In this meaning, the people in China and Japan should stand firmly together, hand in hand, to fight against those attempt to break peace, no matter under what cause those attempt is.

I have no problem when people in Japan memorize the civilians killed in the bomb. They have the right, just as people in China have the right to hold events to memorize the our victim in the war. But I am completely offended when someone there show respect to those guys who planned and committed the aggression war! They are not only guilty to people in Asia, they are also guilty for their own people. It is those War Criminals who brought the world into war, and killed so many people in China, Korea, etc, and in Japan as well. I do want to protest if it happens.

In a war, no one is a winner. This is the fact of war. No one – both the aggressor, and the victim country – lose. It is the mentality that “war can solve all problems” that we (people in both Japan and China) are fighting against, not the people of Japan.

Just my 2 cents, and as always, I am open with more thoughts about this matter.

Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang (external link) on September 27, 2007 1:35 PM

Any one has more facts to support or reject the thoughts?

Happy Moon Cake Festival

I am naughty. I do mean the Mid-August Festival. It is funny to hear more and more people refer it as Moon Cake Festival since we eat Moon Cake, and I found good taste food is always an enjoyable thing for people no matter young or old. (Heard about the introduction of Wii? “It is designed for children from 3 to 90 in age”).

Let me post a picture of moon cake. Sorry for the error in light schema, so it does not look very delicious.

© Jian Shuo Wang

This is a Starbucks Moon Cake.

Moom Cake is a huge business, and normal moon cakes now sells at 200-300 RMB, and I doubt the margin is at least 80% (even including the cost of luxurious packaging). That is the reason why Starbucks and Haggen Daze and all five star hotels all jumped into the Moon Cake business.

OK. Enough about business. Let me say some wishes.

I wish my readers and friends a happy Mid-Autumn Festival, if you celebrate it. For many readers who don’t celebrate this holiday, let me tell you a little bit more about this festival.

Mid-Autumn Festival is About Family

It is a holiday to celebrate togetherness of the family. You may be surprised if I tell you this festival has been celebrated for more than 3000 years in China.

By its name, it is in the middle of Autumn, and by date, it is exactly the 15th day of the 8th month in Lunar Calendar. I would say the Lunar Calendar is a miracle that in the last one thousand years after Lunar Calendar was established, it always preciously describe the movement of moon. 15th of the month is always full moon, and at Mid-Autumn Festival, if you look up into the sky, you can always see (if the sky is clear) a full and bright round moon.

To eat Moon Cake (which is always round), and to observe the round moon is the tradition in China. Round means togetherness in Chinese culture, which we will do together as a family – Yifan, Wendy, and my parents.

So, again, happy mid-autumn festival!

Apartment Sharing in Shanghai

Disclaimer: This post is about a commercial service provided by my close friend Fay. My point-of-view may be biased because we know each other very well.

Last Friday, in Starbucks, after I chatted with another group from Taiwan, Fay joined, and we had a nice conversation about what Fay is doing. Fay is from Taiwan, and then graduated from UC Berkeley. We worked with each other when she was in eBay. Then few months ago, she left eBay to start something completely new. I didn’t see for a while, and I was happy to catch up and understand what she is doing.

Fay’s Rooms

When we talk, Fay mentioned a project she is doing. After quitting, she found her good apartment in downtown Shanghai is somewhat a burden for her to carry on. So she thought of the idea to rent her living room out. She said many visitors to Shanghai has been tired of 5-star hotels, and want to try something local. For more experienced people than back-packers, the condition of hostel may be to harsh, and there must be something in the middle. She had a nice experience to share her room with more than 10 persons already. Later on, her friends joined the network and asked her to manage their living rooms, so she has the little inventory of 4 rooms to manage now. Pretty interesting, isn’t it?

This is what she said on her Fay’s Rooms Website.

Fay’s Rooms is a network of short-term apartments and room rentals catered to independent-minded travelers who are tired of the boring ol’ hotel rooms or have “graduated” from crowded hostel bunkbeds. The rooms and apartments offered by Fay’s network are located in prime locations and come with modern furnishing and internet connections, so you can have the comforts of home at a fraction of hotel costs. Additional traveler services such as itinerary planning, personal tour guide, translation assistance, ticket booking, and cell phone rental are available upon request. Fay’s Rooms is currently active in Shanghai, where Fay resides, and has future plans to expand to other cities in China and throughout the world.

It is a nice small startup, with an ambitious plan to go big.

The “Mix” Experience

I chatted more about who are her guests, and she was very excited about this part. She told me people who stayed in her living rooms are all highly educated, with good manner, and are all interesting. She promised me to share the good stories with us, and here it is:

29-yr old Swedish girl working a book about real people in China (she followed like 10 people through the last 7 years to see how their lives have changed). She lived with a Swedish family in Shanghai back in 2000 and speaks pretty good Chinese

Anthropology professor from California who’s planning to take her students to Shanghai next year for a Chinese language and home stay program. She came first to survey the city.

Fashion model casting agent from New York who’s checking out the China/Shanghai scene

College girl from Stanford doing a study on shopping malls in China

College guy from Chicago doing a study on Chinese manufacturers who make American flags; in Asia for the first time

Real estate developer guy from New York in Asia for the first time

Several college students from Europe who have already traveled to 100+ countries and are in China to learn some Chinese.

As you may guess, I am more interested in the opportunity that people from different parts of the world gather in a small living room (of cause one by one) and can find something interesting from their local host – Fay, who happen to love talking a lot. I bet their experience will be different from others.

In my vision, there will be more and more services like this targeting international travelers in Shanghai. As I said for many times, Shanghai is not a traveler friendly city yet. That may be is the reason why I started this blog, and why Fay shared her living room.

Final disclaimer: I didn’t PERSONALLY check any rooms posted on faysrooms.com. I only can tell you Fay is a great and honest person.

Don’t Leave, AussiePB

One of my reader AussiePB was very offended on this blog today. AssiePB has been here for a almost two months, if I count from his first comment on August 9, 2007. He left a comment and said good bye to this community.

Hi Jian Shuo – it is with great regret that after a very long time following your blogs and enjoying open and friendly discussion, I will no longer be visiting your site… unfortunately, it has attracted a person with very low intellect and even lesser moral fibre. Good luck to you and your family, I will keep in touch via email. Keep up the good work and positive attitude going – I hope that the racism desists here in the future!! Kindest regards, AussiePB…

Posted by: AussiePB on September 23, 2007 7:21 PM

Unfortunately, this is not surprising for me, since I have seen this happens before, when a passionate reader put their heart into discussion and only found out this is not the right place to discuss the issue. I feel bad about it.

So let me write something about it. For AussiePB, but not only him.

First, I don’t Want AussiePB to Leave

During the first interact with AussiePB, when he commented on the coins, I start to know him, and so do all my other readers. I share the happiness of AussiePB’s new arrival baby, as he enjoys my happiness of having Yifan. We even exchanged photos of his son. From his comments, we know he is from Australia, and he has a nice Chinese wife, and enjoy their lives in Shanghai.

This is a typical story of one of thousands of readers of this blog – a real person who is passionate about life, and happen to gather around this little blog.

I don’t want AussiePB leave us. If he feels he needs to leave, so does many other readers.

Secondly, Tolerance is the Survival Tool on this Blog

I have to say, there is no other suggestion than tolerance to my readers when there is a conflict.

For my readers who have been to this blog long enough, we have witness so many cases that people throw all kinds of negative things to this blog. I don’t want to name it, but remember that someone from California came to the site and write a comment on every new blog article, and claiming I am a government agent and try to fool this world? I remember I have about two months or so time to see this kind of comment as the first thing in the morning. Beside that, there are many controversial discussion on this blog, that discuss get heated up. So, I am not surprised.

In this situation, I believe ignore the comments you don’t like is the only way, or the right way.

Thirdly, I don’t Delete Any Comment

Even in these situations, my readers have guided me and helped me to ensure myself that no-delete-comment policy is the right way to go. I have a strict policy on this blog that I do NOT delete any comment as long as it is readable, and it is not a spam.

Sometimes to delete a comment is the most convenient thing for me to do, or even ban some IPs, or keyword. MovableType has that cool function. However, no matter how convenient this action is, it is against the spirit of free speech, and free flow of information. I am not 100% confident about my own judgment of what is right or what is wrong. That is the value I get from comment section.

Lastly, I do NOT Allow Personal Attack

I also have the guideline that you can say whatever you believe is right, but it is definitely not allowed to make personal attack to anyone. That leads the discussion to nowhere.

So My Wishes…

In short, this blog is a place for people from different countries, from different angles to gather and discuss the same topic that people happen to like to discuss: Events (in Shanghai or China) that affect our lives. I value this place so much since I could not find any place that people can discuss so openly and honestly.

It was amazing for me to see a comment system even without registration or email confirmation works so well in the last 5 years, that it is seldom (in percentage) abused. That is the beauty I love to put 30 minutes or 1 hour to this blog every day. It helps to change the world (for a little bit).

So, I’d like people (like AssiePB) to stay, and I will feel frustrated if people just get offended by any of the discussion. It happens, so as I suggested, ignore it, and go on. Do not repeatedly post on the same topic for more than twice if you feel there is some person who don’t understand you.

Anyway, we are adults, and it is not possible to change anyone, especially using comments. It is not only waste of efforts, and also dangers (we see enough time in all kinds of BBS that any effort to change another poster often lead to flaming threads).

This blog is prepared for people who like to express, and more importantly, people who like to listen. Let me use my favorite story The Blind Men and The Elephant again. We are just blind men in this world. No matter how ridiculous or naive, or no-brainer, or making-no-sense the other person is saying, it may be one angle for the same thing. I said MAYBE, but who knows…

Let me add my final comment. If I look back to my entries in 2002, 2003, and 2004, I cannot believe I wrote that, since my point of view was changed so much by intensive traveling, by reading comments on this blog, and by talking with people from different countries. Who knows how my thoughts or your comment-fighting-partner’s thoughts may change in the future.

So, if you enjoy it, keep on commenting, and if you don’t enjoy a comment or two, ignore it and go on the another topic. That is just my 2 cents on this issue.

P.S. By asking AssiePB to stay, I didn’t imply wonton is wrong. Wonton, I read your comments, and got many of your points. People in China, like me, share the same frustration as you have. We are trying to building a better country while someone is holding us back, or ban it. This is reality. As a 3rd party in this case, I feel that you and AssiePB are holding different part of the same elephant – China.

Different Views of the Same Thing

When I write every entry of my blog, especially on controversial topics, I am perfectly aware of angle really matters, and different people see exactly the same thing can tell completely different story, as in the story of Blind Men and the Elephant.

I just saw a small piece of video at the beginning of Sasa’s talk at Ted Conference. That 29 seconds black and white movie tells a very good story about why angle matters. So let me share with you.

I am a big fan of TED, and I have an ambitious plan to view all the TED conference content in the next few months.

Thoughts about Traffic Jam

Today is a No Car Day in Shanghai, and other 107 cities in China. On the No Car Day, let me write about some thoughts around huge traffic jam last week.

Last Monday, I decided to use public transportation – Metro – to go to work. My plan was drive to Century Park metro station which is 4 km away, then park-and-go. It turned out to the biggest mistake I made last week.

Traffic Jam

At the Jin Xiu Road and West Gao Ke Road, there was a traffic jam, and I waited in my car for almost one hour. I left home before 8:00 AM, and when I get to the Metro Station, it is already 9:00 AM. The 4 km (still within 30 minute walking distance) cost me 1 hour. The whole road of Jin Xiu Road was 100% empty after the crossroad, since all cars were caught in the jam.

The Mysterious Road Block

The root cause of the jam is a road block that occupied 2 lanes at the interaction. I assume there should be some construction work going on. The block turned the 4 lane road into a one lane road (the other lane was occupied by Metro Station construction site already).

What a mass! I waited in the long line for 40 minutes, and when I managed to get to the interaction of the two roads, I found I am in the middle of a huge maze. I am heading north, and the car left and right of me are heading south. The car before me is heading east, making it a perfect T-shape, and so does the car before this car.

If you look from above, there are tens of T-shapes, or 45 degree intersections. The result is, none of the cars can possibly move.

I waited there, and watch the traffic light. It turns red, yellow, green …. red, yellow, green… after many circles, any car didn’t move. I can tell you, it is boring to observe the traffic light changing when your car is in the middle of a cross road.

The Solution?

First of all, I don’t know if there is anyway for me, as an individual in this city, or this district of the city, or a citizen of the neighborhood, to sue the construction company for blocking the road. If they do that, they should have obtained a permit to do so. Can I check the permit or ask a city attorney (there is no such a role in China) to check it? If they just put the block there without any permit, is there a law that I can use to sue them?

In China, people will laugh at me if I ask this kind of western questions, since no one thinks that way. But why not? If we (all citizens in this neighborhood collectively) own this land, and this city, we should be able to find out a way to restrict some power (like those of the construction company) and find a balance between their interest and my interest (I don’t want to use the public interest, which term has been abused to describe some privileged group). The power without check and balance causes chaos.

If it is the road block causing the problem, is there ANY way to prevent it from happing again? If there is no law against it, can we approve a law?

When I try to seek the possibility, I feel desperate. The answer is simple: there is no way to influence any public policy (I am even not talking about the country level. I am talking about the street and neighborhood level), there is no way to sue government (since a legal system is not working when we talk about public affairs, not conflict between two companies. Well, to be fair, there ARE such mechanism, but as many other mechanism, it does not work), and there is no way to even raise the awareness of people about this importance of check and balance, and people’s right (that is the reason why blog or website trying to discuss these issues were shutdown). All these thoughts lead to a black hole, an endless black hole, which no result. Obviously, seeking for the change in this situation is strictly forbidden, but I believe it is good for the future of China.

Shanghai Looks Like a Modern City

I haven’t take Shanghai Metro for a long, long time.

The other day, I took Metro home. Wow. I found some really good improvement in Metro. Let me share what I saw with you.

People Start to Line Up!

I would say people lining up to get onto to off Metro is very rare for me. Normally, taking Metro is a physically fighting game that you have to either join handful of people to rush into the door or you wait until the second train and get pushed by people behind you.

During my metro ride, I found more people line up on the left and right side of the gate to allow people to leave the train before they enter.

This is still not the common practice, but I am happy to see at least some people are starting to do so, which is very positive sign.

Empty Seats on Train

This also seems strange to me. On the train, at around 7:00 PM, there are empty seats while there are still many people standing!

I don’t think there is anything significant behind this, but this is a scene I rarely saw before. Typically, even if there is only one empty seat left, people will get across the train cart and take it.

This reminds me my first trip to Singapore about 5 years ago. I was so puzzled to see empty seats while there are many more people standing nearby. I even asked people around me why not take seats! (FYI, they didn’t have an answer). At that time, I thought I wrote something about it and claimed that this could never happen in Shanghai.

It happened after 5 years. I would guess that it is because of the higher quality people’s life and the more abundance of public facility that a seat is not that a big deal. The most likely answer to the question why people don’t take something is “abundance”. I would say if you take everything out of the garbage bin these days and show it to people of 10 years ago in China, I bet most of the items will be taken away, like all newspapers (they can sell it for 1 or 2 cents), bottles (they can also sell it), and boxes (they can bring home for daily use).

I guess the seat is the same thing for people. When I have a seat everywhere, why bother take the seat in a Metro? It seems the same in U.S. Subways, and especially the AirTrain in SFO (almost all people stand and keeps all the seats open).

What’s Wrong with China?

Every time I travel, I keep talking with a lot of people in the States to find out an answer of a simple question: What is the future of China? And that leads to another question, which is “what is wrong with current China?”.

I am reading the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The angle from environment and population, education, etc does not answer the question. Why there is so bad environment problem? The book China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power‘s point of view about power, about society partly answers the question, but there is still a lot of puzzles for me.

What’s wrong with current China or China in the last 300 years that turned the once-most powerful country in the world with 40% of world production into a country with 1.6 billion people but only less than 4% of world wealth?

I have some answers, but not so sure, and I am keeping seeking for more and think more about it.