Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Party Congress

I think I am slowly running out of energy, so am not so meticulously documenting my experiences. Winter is coming, and with it the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is in full swing. Unfortunately, i was in Wuhan so i could not attend the CCTV discussion on the Congress, though i was able to give my thoughts to the CRI.  Too lazy to find the link to either the tv (one for the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, ok found it: http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20121027/101185.shtml) or radio i've done recently, though its been more infrequent. I thought General Secretary Hu gave a good speech on the 17th Congress to open the 18th, and was fairly dramatic in describing the need for all party members to uphold high morals and integrity and not succumb to corruption which could challenge the party and even the state.

I attended an academic conference on the IR theory known as the English School, with keynote address by Prof. Barry Buzan, who was a pleasure to meet. The theme also included whether IR should include a Chinese school (my answer was no). The conference was held in Changchun, Jilin at Jilin University and was rather enjoyable, a very good academic workshop and discussion on these approaches. In my free time, I and another professor from Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh visited the former palace of the last emperor (i.e. puppet emperor) Puyi in the provincial capital, and former capital of the Japanese puppet state of Manchuria. For anyone who has seen Bernardo Bertolucci's excellent film The Last Emperor, it was quite charming to see the actual places that were filmed and to reimagine China in the 1930s. The attached museum to the atrocities committed by Japan in the war was very detailed, accurate, and informative. I greatly appreciated both sites, and the slant of the museum was only minimal, i think it was a fair and honest recounting. We even concluded the conference in a Japanese restaurant downing copious amounts of sake (i estimate i had over 20 shots), which led me to some rather uncharacteristic toasts (which i will not repeat here), but that is an aspect of modern Chinese culture, and sake tasted much better than the shots of baijiu (rice grain alcohol) from the night before, 5 of those left an imprint.

Tomorrow, I am off to Kyoto for a personal tour, first time to Kansai. Then judging a Model UN conference, and giving a talk at Beijing Foreign Studies University, and wrapping up my classes before returning stateside in January. I did manage to watch the US election returns at a US Embassy party, where Ambassador Gary Locke spoke, and i especially enjoyed it with ten of my favorite students. It will be hard to return to my quiet anonymous life in Sacramento after a year plus of constant attention, but also ready to recharge my batteries. Really looking forward to 5 days in Japan, and sipping sake rather than ganbei, kanpai, bottoms up; and some light cuisine. And a short excursion to a bridge in Osaka that my dad painted when he saw it back in 1953 during R&R from the last days of the Korean War. The painting hangs in my bedroom in Sacramento, and i think i have found its location as Yodoya bashi and have booked one night nearby to take a photo and verify, a pilgrimmage for my father, maybe the few the proud, the only? Marine whose passion was art and painting. Which reminds me i need to wear his Marine shirt when i go visit, almost forgot.