Saturday, May 26, 2012


I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to think, let alone write up a new blog, let alone sign in through the VPN and upload anything to escape the blog firewall. So, sitting in my hotel in Hefei with a couple hours to kill before my flight back to Beijing I can try.

In early April, I went to Chengdu and Chongqing in Sichuan province. It seems so distant I can barely remember what happened, other than giving my four lectures. I was supposed to give a lecture on Ethnic Conflict, and despite my reassurances that I would not discuss ethnicity in China in the lecture, the plug was pulled on that one last minute and I ended up to lecture on US-China relations, which is far more sensitive. Oh well. Sichuan is lovely in April, and Chengdu’s
Old Street
is very charming, though I’d been there before. Chongqing was very exciting, as it was my first visit, arranged through the help of my friend Cui Yue through Waijiao Xueyuan, my home Foreign Affairs University.

Chongqing is situated amid two large rivers (including the Yang-tse, otherwise known as the Chang Jiang), and amid small mountains as Sichuan begins its ascent up the Tibetan plateau. My female host in Anhui province, who hails from Yunnan province, told me that Chongqing has the most beautiful girls in China. Good to remember, but hard to reply to. People in China love to make such pronouncements. At my lecture in Shangai’s Tongji University in early May, the host (male) student told me that to find a wife, a student should go to Tongji University (female/male ratio is better), to play should go to Fudan University (it’s the prettiest campus). Actually, I think I’ve already mixed it up, and forgot where Shanghai Jiaotong University fits in this equation.

In any case, I discovered that Sichuan Foreign Languages University in Chongqing, which was hosting me, is also developing a partnership with CSU Sacramento. The dean that hosted me was in charge of developing the cooperation, so it was very fortuitous. Hopefully, I can arrange a way to further this connection. Aside from my lectures, we found time to visit several sites, including the lovely mountain right behind the campus (name escapes me). We also gazed at the confluence of the two rivers in downtown, where an island sits “like Manhattan” in the middle of the joined rivers. The old neighborhood of Cishikou was quite nice, leading up to an old Buddhist temple, and the city (formerly Chungking) was unique as the capital of the Guomindang (Nationalists) in World War II, briefly in partnership with the Communist Party, and jointly both with the American military which was sending its Flying Tigers over the Himalayas to aid China’s Southwest against Japanese invaders, and by land through the diligent building by the US army of Stillwell’s Road, to bring supplies under the instruction of the great and foresighted (and fluent in Chinese) American general. Also, the curvy roads and intricate alleyways up the side of hills were reminiscent of San Francisco, and of course Sichuan food is to die for. So, all in all, a great trip; very good hosts, Lily and Wu Bing, and in late spring, not unbearably hot. I also landed soon after the expulsion of former Politburo member Bo Xilai in a toxic scandal of lust, greed, and not much caution. Nevertheless, he was and is very popular among the people of the city (he was the former Party leader of the city, which is governed directly from Beijing), and among the faculty. One student captured what most think generally when he told me that in high school, his teacher told him: “You don’t have to love the party, but you must love your country.” That is the current zeitgeist.

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