C is for Change

I will be talking about this quite a bit–the change that is happening in China as the country becomes more and more interested in the western style of life. Buses like this one are the most common to ride in–ours was a little more high class than this city commuter bus. Bus transport is the slowest mode, but is worth the money. Transport from the University to downtown takes about 30 minutes, but only costs 1rmb, which is about 13 cents. If you were to take a cab to the city, it would take half the time, but more than likely cost around 50 rmb as Xianang U is just outside of the city limits and a toll booth–which is 20 rmb one way and you must pay the cabby’s toll back into the city. 50rmb is about $6.25. So obviously, the bus routes are the way to go.

China’s development to westernize itself is growing. Newer condos such as these are growing around the city and China playing host to the 2008 Olympics is certainly in part to this occuring. Throughout the city, buses and city streets are lined with the proud advertisement “CHINA 2008” with the Olympic rings. The buildings next to this one were beat up shacks that will be demolished at some point, when the Chinese get around to it.

“Endless Distribution in Transformation”
A sign of westernization–these ads appear all over the city–reminds me of the Apprentice, but after reading a story on CNN about how the market is opening up and the US is trying to design its own trade restrictions against China, I think this is more what this is trying to say.

Here is the article….

BEIJING, China (AP) — China’s government-run media lashed out Wednesday at U.S. efforts to limit imports of low-cost Chinese textiles as negotiators from the two sides met to try to settle the dispute.
“Trade protectionism has incurred huge costs for Chinese textile producers,” the government’s China Daily newspaper said in its lead editorial.
“Protectionism is a loss-loss deal for both sides in international trade while undermining the global effort to build a free and fair trade order.”
Chinese textile exports have soared since a worldwide quota system expired on January 1. Washington has already imposed temporary quotas limiting growth in imports of some Chinese textiles to 7.5 percent a year, but U.S. clothing manufacturers want broader limits.
The chief U.S. negotiator, David Spooner, said earlier that Washington had presented Beijing with a proposal to cover all items now protected by safeguard agreements plus any categories that might be affected in the future by imports from China.
The American limits would last through 2008.
His talks with Chinese Commerce Ministry officials entered a second day Wednesday.
Beijing argues that developed countries like the United States should focus on high-tech, big-money goods like airplanes and not try to stymie Chinese production of low-cost items like socks and underwear.
It also says that limits on Chinese goods would force U.S. consumers to pay more for clothing.
U.S. clothing manufacturers say the flood of cheap Chinese goods since the beginning of this year have forced 19 U.S. plants to close and resulted in 26,000 lost jobs.
But talks have yet to reach the make-or-break stage, said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, who was in Beijing on Wednesday.
The aim: “Either get a good agreement or no agreement,” he said.
If no agreement is reached, U.S. manufacturers will continue to rely on the safeguard system which allows them to petition the U.S. government on a case-by-case basis for limits if imports are seen to be threatening American industry, he said.
The dispute is politically sensitive at a time of soaring U.S. trade deficits with China, which last year hit $162 billion (130 billion euros) — an all-time record high with any country.

And finally, the true sign of American Influence, the golden arches. If you enlarge this picture, youll see a nice statue in the front of the store that is of a young American boy with his baseball hat on and his baseball glove. The girls I was travelling with wanted to go in and eat, but I refused although I am sure a big mac attack will occur at some point–more out of the need to have meat that I can somewhat recognize.
There is also a KFC across the street from this MC’d’s. And next door– a pizza buffet.
We opted for a nice noodle shop. One thing I am having to get used to is that there is very little meat in dishes and usually egg in some form. The noodle place had a beef noodle soup with lots of cilantro and little beef shavings and a brown, hard boiled egg in it. It was a little greasy for my liking, but not bad.

Downtown Chenzhou

Today was the first full day in Chenzou and I was given the gracious opportunity to travel with two soon to be students of mine into town for some supplies. The journey was very amusing and somewhat long. Chenzou City is about a 30 minute bus ride from where we are located, which is considered the “suburbs”.
These are all pictures that were taken during the journey. As you can see, it was a very overcast day here, but still very humid. By the end of the day, my shirt was clinging tightly to me.

This is a very common site in Chenzou and I would imagine other cities in China as well. Men with giant carts loaded down with goods from who knows where. This man had one of the larger carts we saw throughout the day, but it was not uncommon to see bikes loaded with 75 bags of rice weighing at least 50lbs a piece.

I thought this is a funny picture because the billboard looks very much like the one in this photo. This is also driving into Chenzhou.

These are the giant supermarkets that are in the city. There isn’t any Wal-Marts here folks, but these are the places to go if you need supplies are not up to the consistant haggling that goes on in the marketplace, which I will show later.

This is the part about China that is the most intruguing. There were several buildings like this one throughout Chenzou that would not seem out of place in any Western City.
Progress is alive and well in the city as the Chinese are becoming more responsive to Western interests in the far east. The modern look to the cities is in no doubt due to the Olympics that will be coming up in 3 years. All over the city, there are signs that proudly read BEIJING 2008!!!
*Interesting little factoid: The China Women’s Volleyball team is headquartered in Chenzou.

Chenzhou Thoughts

Let me just say first off that I cannot check the site to see if these blogs are actually making it into cyberspace, but I believe that they are. This and the BBC have been the only sights that I have seen blocked. So, please make comments as they are sent to me via email and that lets me know that the site is working. I might look for another blog to post to that I can see as well, but this one has so many functions, its going to be tough to let go.

I do not have a lot of time in which to write this, as I am supposed to be meeting a student to go into town and get supplies with. We were supposed to have breakfast, but it is now 10:15am and I have a feeling that breakfast is done with.

The last 72 hours have been quite amazing for me. I am not sure why, but I didn’t really think any of this was going to happen for the entire time I was making it happen. It didnt become a reality for me until I landed in Tokyo Narita airport (which, by the way, is 1 hour train ride away from Tokyo, so I didnt even get the chance to see the city). It was at this point, after a quick 10 hour flight, that I realized that the journey was underway. The flight from Seattle to Tokyo was nothing short of good–except my goddamn ipod refused to work (I have since figured out what the issue was and am in the process of getting it back online). I did watch something in the realm of four films and had a couple of good bloody marys.

More on that later–as I really must get going. This is the main quarter of the University at Dusk. If you click on the image, it will enlarge it.
The University is on the outskirts of Chenzou City, which I have not really seen much of, but will today.

This is the medical science building, which is to the right of the other building in the picture above. As you can see, this University is fairly modern and was just built in the last couple of years.

This was just taken this morning from the back of my apartment at about 6am. In the cloud lines is a mountain that I will be investigating in the near future.

Anyway, that is all for now. I need to get out into the city as I am sure Susan is wondering what the hell I am doing.

Hope your all well.

China has arrived, now I am just waiting for the jetlag..

Well, I am very happy to report that it would seem that I can actually access my blog. I am writing this short note to say that I have arrived in Chenzou and I am currently writing to you from my flat here on the campus. It is much, much nicer than I had expected! The living room and the bedroom are near perfect, but the bathroom needs a good cleaning (please hold your laughs) and the kitchen is beyond my realm of filth.
Now, I am going to test to see if this actually posts.
Cross yer fingers.

5 Daze 2 China

The days are flying by so fast at this point, its hard to pause for a few moments and write about what is going on.
Yesterday the final piece of the essential puzzle was put into place for going to China. I received the Visa back from the San Francisco Consulate of the People’s Republic of China with my Z visa included in the passport. I was granted one single entry and a friendly reminder that I need to go to the securities office within 30 days to get my residental working visa.
It is somewhat shocking to stare at this piece of paper that ended up costing $150us to allow me into the country. It took a lot of little steps to get through in order to get the Visa going to get to this point where I am today.
Where am I today?
I am laying on the bed that has already been sold, my room a complicated mess of various items that I have yet to decide where they need to go, what needs to be done with them. The house could be declared a disaster area with all of the various items laying about. This is truly the liquadation of my life. I am learning more and more that these possesions that we buy, so much of it we don’t really use and hardly any of it really retains it true value.

I have discovered that this blog might not actually work in China, sadly enough. We will have to see if it is blocked by the great firewall of China–there seems to be varying opinions about how the firewall is actually blocks the information from going through. From what I have gathered, Chinese citizens have less access than expats, so I might be safe, but it might be difficult to access at first.

Some people have asked me why China? The answer is quite simple and might even seem slightly scapegoatish. Politics really have an effect on me personally. Things have really changed in this country over the last decade and I don’t feel that I am getting the fruits of my labour in the U.S. I think that our government is the most dishonest it’s been since the Nixon administration and George W. probably even outweighs Nixon in that catagory. How this country does not directly blame an oil tycoon for causing the worlds oil problems is beyond comparision to me. At least the Chinese are honest about what they are doing–they let their people know that they intend to be intrusive. Where the United States is losing their ground in innovation, the Chinese are picking up the slack and becoming a powerhouse in the world market. I am interested to go to a country and experience their customs and culture and attempt to compare it to ours in a fair and just setting.

What is Americana? This is something that I have been thinking about for several months. There are going to be things that I am going to miss, but not much that I cannot live without.
Anway, enough for now.
Its time to get this day rolling.
Lot of shit to do today.