Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The United States of China

“China is a threat, China is a customer, and China is an opportunity.” – Kenichi Ohmae.

Upon the recommendation of the academic tour leader, I'm reading 'The World is Flat' in preparation for my trip. I started it three weeks ago and have only made my way to page 140. The quote above is followed by advice to not compete with China, but consider which part of your business you want to do in China, which part to sell to China and which part to buy from China.

Of course I consider this in terms of education, more so following a chat with my old boss who advised me to write on what Chinese universities seek from their internationalisation strategies. I guess this is where I should start.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What about Korea?

There are a number of wicked problems from last century that are unsolved this century that appear to be placed in the basket case: Korea and reunification is one. Another is the Roma of Europe.
Whenever I read something about North Korea treating it citizens poorly, I get angry at the Republic for not being generous enough to help the North. Whenever I read about North Korean refugees having a hard time, I get angry at China, where they usually go in the first instance, for not being generous enough to work on a solution.
Stil thinking of topics for investigation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Got My Visa

Picked up my visa today, shiny visa in shiny passport. All ready to go. $78.50 and two visits to the very efficient visa processing office.
Started thinking about topics for my research projects, hoping I can write on cultural capital, soft diplomacy, international education, maybe something about standards. Started poking around for topics.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tanjil Bren

Mini-adventure this weekend. Left after a sleep-in on Saturday and headed to Warburton where we bought sausages in bread with sauce and onion for $2.50. Bought up big on country produce like soap, jam and wine.

A long day driving was ahead, not knowing exactly where camp would be. Drove through lots of snow and winding roads. Lots of glorious wattle in flower. Checked out the Thomson Reservoir to see how much water was in it.

Our journey took us along and through many creeks and rivers and as the evening wore on we started to wonder if there were any nice campsites or huts that hadn't been trashed by bogans or inhabited by groups of guys playing music.

We found a spot at the base of Morning Star track and ate a ham, rice, chili and green bean concoction with lots of local wine, then snuggled into the tent and forgot about everything.

The following morning we drove around in circles for a bit, lots in a muddy maze of tracks before crossing the ford near our campsite and heading up the particularly steep Morning Star track. So steep I decided to get out of the car...

Headed north and checked our Mt Useful. Felt a bit frustrated as this was my first trip with the new Leica and I couldn't get the colour I wanted for some pics. Useful was a white-out, freezing and no view. A huge comms tower is up there, and a shelter that I assume is for fire watch comms, but could be an emergency option should we ever need it.

Along McEvoy's Track, which was signed as 'Spring', we stopped at two interesting places, Edwards Reef Cemetery and Crooks Historic Site. Both were mysterious and a little spooky. Crooks had nothing but a dot on the map and a pole with the word Crooks... Why?

We headed towards Walhalla along Binn's Road and were surprised at how damn cute that town is - even more than I remembered. We followed the train line south out of town, noting that the Australian Alpine Walking Track starts in the town and winds all the way to Canberra. One day.

Through Rawson, not so pretty, we headed west along South Face Road which sports some very fancy new bridges. We swung past Mt Baw Baw and then lunched in the charmingly named Tanjil Bren, population 9.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Blue Dragon

The Melbourne Festival is in town and my token selection was 'The Blue Dragon', which was amazing. Money and time well spent as it was a luscious performance. Set in Shanghai with three actors, the dialogue was in French Canadian and Chinese. The set and lighting design threatened to steal the show, but I was soaking the 'Shanghai' story, sights and characters. It definitely made me want to see some galleries and ride a bike while I'm in China.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This morning I'm running in the Melbourne Marathon, doing a 5.7km run, not the whole enchilada. It means I'll be late to the next session of the Business Globalization course, which I'm hoping won't get me in trouble. The schedule starts with each participant giving a 3 minute presentation on what they hope to see and experience on the tour.
What I hope to get out of it is a greater understanding of 'China', a more nuanced appreciation of the culture and the way of doing business. I hope to eat great food, learn history I had no idea about, and try to uncover some diversity of opinions.
If I'm able to follow my line of interest then I might write about soft diplomacy and China's recent foray into this way of gathering and expending cultural capital.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Charter 08

Dinner in Northcote last night at a Japanese place. We ate and ate and it was wonderful. Home to bed and MSG fever set in. Charlie heard a loud tinkle in the night that sounded like breaking glass and in the street this morning was a smashed porcelain toilet.
Back at Building 108 in Bourke Street for more of the Business Globalisation 'academic content'. I read this morning that a Chinese man called Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He's considered an enemy of the state in China and a reformist outside. Reading up now on his Charter 08. Meanwhile ordered this book on ebay.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New Passport

My first passport got me to Bali when I was thirteen. The photo was taken at a studio in Eltham and in my memory of it I have a long bob and am smiling.
My next passport I got when working at La Trobe University and shows a stern looking young woman with spiky black hair and a tight mouth. This was the passport that took me to the USA in June 2002 to experience all sort of adventures, shopping and trauma. It also took me to London on a work visa, Lithuania on a student visa, Russia on a dodgy visa, Korea on an alien visa and Vietnam on a Socialist visa.
My latest passport is in the mail and will take me first to Shanghai. I'm dreaming of a trip to New Zealand and Samoa next year.

Monday, October 04, 2010


One of the obstacles I'm facing with this class... Need to see it as a challenge instead... Is that the subject is about 'business globalisation'. So yesterday we spent the afternoon watching a video (!!) about Wal-Mart, their innovative business practices and also their move to Chinese suppliers.
The whole time my brain is working to find the humanities perspective, rather than the business. The other students are mostly second year undergrads doing logistics, marketing, international business, economics and accounting. They don't know my stuff but I don't know their stuff neither.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Chinese Family Altar

After years selling the idea of a study tour, I'm heading on one myself. I wonder if it will be as illuminating as my exchange to Vilnius? In 48 days I'll fly non-stop to Shanghai for two weeks of study on 'Business Globalisation'. The decision to go was easy, but I've had doubts ever since. Today was the first session of academic content and included some pre-departure cross cultural stuff. Some of the assessment is a reflective piece, and the guiding question needs to be 'what am I hoping to get out of this?'.
I tend to not be very reflective, more brutal. So the process of actually giving consideration to the whys and wherefores might be more challenging than it seems. The main motivation that occurs to me to to increase my professional competence when it comes to things Chinese. I think it might be too much to expect resolution of the contradictions and tensions that exist for me around China The Idea.
Maybe, like when I went to Estonia after being in Vilnius for months, being in China will give fresh insights into Korea, which I know better.