Archive for October, 2010

[Quick Update] Heading for Ordos, Inner Mongolia for the Weekend

Ordos, Inner Mongolia? Never heard of it? I will be here. It’s my first time into Inner Mongolia and it should be about a ten hour over night train ride from Beijing. According to TIME Magazine Ordos is the Modern Ghost Town so it should be perfect for Halloween. I will be back with more updates on Monday.

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[Transportation] China has the Fastest Shinkansen (Bullet Train in Japanese)

I’m sure by now you’ve seen posts from all over the web saying that China has the fastest bullet train in the world,  running at a speed of  245mph compared to the 186mph Japanese Shinkansen, which previously was the fastest before China overtook the Shinkansen in 2008 with the opening of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway. I had the opportunity to ride the Chinese Bullet Train from Beijing to Tianjin couple months ago and I must say I was extremely impressed.  From Beijing to Tianjin is about 117km in distance and it only took about 30minutes. The ride was comfortable as the Japanese Shinkansen, or even better and the interior was spacious enough to take a brief nap but again, 30 minutes wasn’t long enough for my nap.  The total cost one way was about 70rmb (about 10USD) for first class coach. With the record breaking traffic jams in Beijing, it’s nice to see more means of transportation being complete all around China.

The world’s first maglev also belongs to China running at  a max speed of 268mph connecting Shanghai Pudong International airport and the outskirts of central Shanghai. I finally had a chance to ride it couple weeks back and not only the speed but how comfortable it was really amazed me. Japan Railways announced recently that they will also be completing a maglev style bullet train with max speed of 312mph, aiming for commercial use in 2027, which is still a while away. But as an observer, it’s interesting to see how quickly China has caught up and passed Japan in this field. Considering 20 years ago, nobody could compete with the Japanese Bullet Trains in speed, efficiency, and safety.  For more comparision on comparative literature on high speed transportation, the Transport Politic did a great job analyzing “High Speed Rail in China”.

at Beijing South Subway Station waiting for the Bullet Train.

a Bullet Train is ready to leave Beijing towards Tianjin. It runs almost every 30minutes from Beijing South Railway Station

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo] Beijing’s Underground City

What fascinates me about this great city of Beijing is that the more you try to know what’s going on in this city, the more unknowns you run into. Couple weeks back some friends and I were having a conversation about the Underground City in Beijing. A city created in the form of tunnels under the city of Beijing. This to me was unheard of. In Chinese its called 地下城(DiXia Cheng). It’s sole purpose was to be a bomb shelter created in the 1970s in anticipation of nuclear warfare with the USSR. Since 2000 to 2008 it has become a tourist destination but for the last few years the gates have been shut down for renovations. I’m really curious to see what it’s like down there below. It cover a total of 85 square kilometers. I know that there are a total of 90 gates in the city. Even around my apartment I feel like the shady basement entrances could lead to the underground city. Will be back with more updates soon on the underground city.

Could this be one of the 90 entrances to the Underground City?

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo Essay] Saturday Afternoon in Gulou

Gulou is the area surrounding Drum and Bell towers mainly with Hutong style housing which is currently under the threat of redevelopment programs which are mainly the construction of transportation centers in the area. This photo essay is my walk through of Beijing's beloved old city.

 

Rickshaw drivers rest as they await for customers. Drum tower in the background.

Rickshaw drivers ride back to the Drum towers. Most of their income comes from tourists. This day it was mainly French tourists who didn't feel like walking around the Hutongs.

Girls hanging out on the swings?at the park on a Saturday afternoon. Drum tower in the background

Elders meet on a daily basis to play mahjong. They didn't seem to mind the cold wind that day.

Rickshaw drivers were everywhere in Gulou that day. Weekends are busy days for these drivers.

Girls busy on their phones, on the way home from school.

Students heading home from school.

Rickshaw drivers taking French Tourists around for a ride.

A dog walks by. Dogs tend to be unleashed in China. Chinese people love their dogs here.

Looks like someone had a party last night. The local beer Yanjing Beer seems to be the popular choice around here.

Biker cycles past a green sign that asks for citizens to cooperate in the Census program that is taking place right now in China.

A worker is seen through the walls. The north side of Gulou is already destroyed and a transport station is supposed to be built to compliment the ever growing population and transportation efficiency.

On Gulou Da Jie. Construction can be seen at every corner of Gulou.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Power Dynamics] Joseph Nye on Power Transition and Power Diffusion

I ran across a great TED Talk from former US Diplomat and Harvard Kennedy School of Government dean, Joseph Nye.

Some topics he discussed in his talk were:

Power Transition Vs. Power Diffusion
Not rise of asia, but the Return of Asia. Power shift to Asia.
China passing US economy in 2027(projected by Goldman Sachs) isn’t a percapita measurement hence, one dimentional overlooking the complex issues.
Asia is not one thing. View of rise of China is different depending on where you are in Asia.
“We(US) don’t have to fear the rise of China, as long as we we have policies to manage this change”
Power is multipolar – US, EU, China, and Japan can balance each other
Soft power is becoming more and more important.
How do we work together create global public goods on positive sum but not zero sum?

I think Dr. Nye did a great job analyzing power from many different perspectives in the 15minutes that he presented. It’s correct, China may surpass the US in terms of GDP by 2027 as China has already passed Japan this year but you have to look at economic power from the per capita perspective. According to World Bank data, it still takes on average  13 Chinese citizens to produce as much as one Japanese citizens GDP.

But I really liked how he said  mutual cooperation and understanding each countries national interest as well as creating a positive gain, will be a key to creating smart power. A very optimistic but an inspiring 15minutes.


[Sino-Japanese Relations] Recap of Sino-Japanese Relations: September to October

Let’s look back at the major events that happened in the last 2 months span between Japan and China. This is the most tension these two neighboring states have experienced since 2005.

9/8/2010 Collision between a Chinese fishing vessel and the Japanese coast guard near a chain of disputed islands.
9/16/2010 Death of a Giant Panda in Japan loaned by the Chinese government.
9/20/2010 The arrest of four Japanese construction company employees at a Chinese military site.
9/20/2010 China cancels 1,000 Japanese youths visiting the Shanghai Expo.
9/21/2010 China cancels the ticket sales of Japanese boy band Smap’s first ever concert in Shanghai.
9/27/2010 Japan asks China to pay for boat damages from the 9/8 incident.
10/7/2010  Japan complains to China on their difficulty to import rare earth resources.
10/20/2010 Ironically, Japan welcomes China for the 10th anniversary of the military exchange program.
10/25/2010 China cancels their attendance to 23rd Tokyo International film fest concerning over the naming of the event’s Taiwanese delegation.

As a result of these actions and reactions by the two states, Japanese tourism to China has dropped significantly. Heavy distrust between the 2 states have grown dramatically in the past couple weeks. Of course, we also witnessed protests in both countries:
10/16/2010 2,000 Japanese protesters marched Saturday to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.
10/23/2010 Anti-Japanese protests in Sichuan, China.
10/26/2010 Anti-Japanese protests in Chongqing, China.

There were other protests in China as well, but from the trends it seems like the Chinese government is doing a lot better job controlling the protests as the most recent ones in Lanzhou and Baoji were controlled by local officials before the demonstrations expanded into larger groups. It is said that most of these protests are organized through online groups which enables protesting to happen much efficiently and jointly as we have seen through the Honda labor strikes. It was interesting to see how in some of the latest protests in China, while some were shouting slogans slamming Japan and to boycott their products, some people also raised banners criticizing Chinese Communist Party rule. One called for the introduction of a multiparty political system. Another berated the government for the high cost of living. Many people have fallen victim of this dispute as a Japanese school in Tianjin was attacked and Japanese owned businesses and Japanese restaurants were hit hard by angry protesters. But it is ironic since most of these restaurants are Chinese owned and personally, they hold no ties to Japan. I asked a couple Japanese restaurant owners in Beijing if the last couple months have affected their business and they said they said they have fewer people coming in to their restaurants.

What is effecting such public opinion is the more interesting topic of debate as education in both states clearly list in their history books that the controversial islands belongs to them and nobody else. The unfortunate incident happened in the sea territory of dispute over both state’s sovereignty which stirred the events listed above in the last couple months.  I understand there’s mixed reactions to all this but what really hit me was Yoshito Sengoku, Japan’s chief government spokesman statement “The ball is in China’s court” and Japan currently must remain calm. Japan relies heavily on the booming Chinese tourists for its economic recovery. China seems to have more say and control in the relations as we have seen in the past couple months. Japanese citizens are angry about the outcome but Japan currently has to stay calm as any move to anger China will have a longterm damage  on the 2 states bilateral relationship, which Japan doesn’t want at the present. It will be interesting to see what will happen in the following months to come before the Asian Games are getting ready to boot up in Guangzhou China.

Nonetheless, the two countries need each other in the economic field and as I have said over and over, lack of interaction between actual Japanese and Chinese people have stirred such emotions and comments to each other being influenced heavily by popular media and propaganda history books from both sides. At the moment, the 2 states have been playing power diplomacy as both states want to stay as the ‘older brother’ in terms of Confucian relationships as China passed Japan as the second largest economy while Japan has been struggling politically and economically internally as the yen continues to be strong.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara’s interview with WSJ covers the basic views from Japan as well.

Picture taken at Japan Pavilion at Shanghai Expo, even with rising diplomatic tensions, the Japanese Pavilion remained one of the most popular destination)

Picture taken at Japan Pavilion at Shanghai Expo, even with rising diplomatic tensions, the Japanese Pavilion remained one of the most popular destination

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo] Man vs. Car

Picture taken in  Dongxindian. Located one hour east from central business district in Beijing. This area witnessed a bunch of taxi’s being repaired. Mostly migrant workers live in this area.

Dongxindian is a hub for repairing Beijing Taxi's

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Development] Compassion for Migrant Children

This weekend is almost about to end but it was a rather fresh weekend for me in the ever cooling city of Beijing. Friday witnessed a rather early sleeping time and this was so that I could get up early at 6am. Saturday I woke up at 6am, got ready and headed out for 五元桥Wuyuan Bridge. Now, if you’re a local here you might be asking me WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING IN WUYUAN QIAO!!? Wuyuan Bridge is all the way out in the 5th inner ring road which is pretty far from  the center of Beijing. It took me almost 2 hours to get out there: taking the metro, bus and by walking. Where was I headed for in Wuyuan Qiao? I made my way finally to a School in the middle of  no where. Starting this weekend, I have decided to make more use of my time here in Beijing than just the usual going out and wasting my time on the weekends recovering from the night before. I joined a NGO called Compassion for Migrant Children(CMC), which the organization stands to help migrant children in China by further expanding their education by means of using volunteers like me.

China has many social problems but as of now the massive migration of workers moving into larger cities, like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, is one of the largest problems China faces. Here are the stats for Beijing according to CMC:

50,000,000 Migrant Workers in Beijing as of now

500,000 Migrant Children in Beijing.

These are overwhelming numbers and is continually growing at a rapid rate. The problem is that these Migrant children aren’t registered in Beijing since they come from other provinces in China so they do not have the proper access to public education in China.  They do go to school but these migrant schools have poorly educated teachers and overall, the children don’t receive the proper care and advise they require. Most of the migrant children face a reality where they watch their parents work day and night and some drop out of school and start working at a very young age. That’s the situation in a nutshell and I promise I will be back with more statistics and info for future posts.

As far as Saturday went, I realized that I haven’t taught English for almost 3 years when I taught for a private English institution in Wuhan, China for the summer. But this experience was quite different. I wasn’t teaching for money and I was just doing it for the pure enjoyment of wanting to make an impact and learn at the same time. The school was a very simple and even though it lacked many resources the joy of the students and the energy they brought to class took over any negativity in the environment or what the children were going through. I only taught for 2 hours, mainly to grade school students but I really enjoyed it. I will be doing this for the next couple weeks until Christmas. For now, this is all the time I have to update on my experience but I will have a photo essay dedicated to the status of Migrant Workers and their family members by the end of the year! Stay tuned.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Music] Creators Project x Beijing

This should have been posted a while ago but the Creators Project was in town last month. Showcased at the 798 art district.  From their website: “The Creators Project is a new network dedicated to the celebration of creativity and culture across media, and around the world”. Beijing had a real treat that night as everyone enjoyed free drinks all night long and performances from Diplo and Major Lazor.

 

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo] Summer is over and that means Winter is here in Beijing

I remember moving into my new apartment in Beijing and I would rush to my room and turn on the air conditioning immediately to avoid the heat that Beijing was experiencing. This was about 2 months ago. Today, I was freezing and no wonder, it was about 10 degrees celsius outside. Summer is long gone and here comes the winter season in Beijing that I have been dreading about. So what happened to Autumn? I think we had Autumn weather for maybe about a week if not less from the end of September to the first week of October. For recent events, the company I work for moved its office to Hanwei Plaza which is another large business complex in Beijing. It doesn’t really effect my traveling time to the office but I was able to walk a different route to capture another face of one of my favorite buildings in Beijing: that of course is the CCTV tower. You can see the building that burned down in the background.

 

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.