I have returned to Beijing, and already am super busy despite (or because of) the conclusion of the Fulbright. I spent a month visiting family across the US, driving from Phoenix to Santa Fe, New Mexico (a great city), Dallas, Rogers, Arkansas (Walmartland), and Indianola, Iowa (my hometown of 12,000 people near the capital Des Moines). The bulk of the time was spent on my cousin’s farm outside town, with a dozen second cousins on that side, and most of my own side paying visits. We all gathered for the State Fair, and I got to watch my cousin’s son show his Charolais and Hereford cows and place pretty high.
I must also insert the worst flying experience of my life on United Airlines, I don’t feel like writing out the story, but I will never fly them again and will discourage all people from ever using them. The Least Friendly Skies in the world. Until and unless they rectify some of the problems I encountered on my 70 hour journey to get from Beijing to Phoenix, Arizona, which was nearly quadruple the length it was scheduled for, I will take out my frustration online.
Ahem, in any case, I continue my presence at China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) and now affiliated with Beijing University to do research with support from the Cal State University’s Wang Family Scholarship. Life has returned to my normality in China, with regular appearances on tv (on Egyptian President Morsi’s visit to Iran <http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20120831/100644.shtml>, Secretary Clinton’s visit to China <http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20120906/100812.shtml>, and the Diaoyu Island standoff <http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20120914/100773.shtml> and radio (on public university funding in the US <http://english.cri.cn/8706/2012/09/06/2861s721045.htm> and the Diaoyu Islands <http://english.cri.cn/8706/2012/09/17/2861s722704.htm>). The latest tremor across the political landscape was Japan’s purchase of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in China) from a private Japanese family. That has led to widespread demonstrations, though I have not witnessed any. They seem to be fairly specific in their locales, and I have heard that there are identification checks to get into the protest zone (such as near the Japanese Embassy), though supposedly universities have distributed eggs and tomatoes to chuck at the Embassy. That also happens to be one of my favorite dishes (xihongsi jidan). Rumors on the internet have been out of hand, as has public sentiments and anti-Japanese rhetoric. But its been that way for a long time, and the collective historical memory of wartime atrocities is profound and understandable, but dangerous and poisonous to positive bilateral relationships.
Otherwise, I attended the East West Center (US funded think tank in Honolulu, Hawaii) biannual conference at Beijing University, and was able to reconnect with a few old friends and colleagues, and briefly meet a former committee member, the President of the EWC Charles Morrison. It was an enjoyable conference, especially the presentation of former Goldman Sachs in China head Fred Hu. Ambassador Gary Locke also described US foreign policy, and a variety of panels were held though I could attend very little. I guess the other exciting part of the term so far was being invited to CFAU’s groundbreaking at the new campus outside the city (in Shahe, Changping). Two bronze statues of former PM Zhou Enlai and founding university president Marshal Cheng Yi were unveiled, and I was given a front row standing position (no seats). And a surprise guest VIP made a special appearance, current Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, and I had the great honor to meet him, shake hands, and say the formal ‘Nin hao!’ A picture should be coming to validate; I certainly never imagined I would meet the #2 man in China during my stay.
Otherwise, the October 1 national liberation day approaches, as does the concomitant national holiday, and I will spend most of the time in Hong Kong to visit my sister who is on a work trip there. And I just used miles to book a 5 day trip to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan, my first travel in that area. I am super-excited to see the great imperial remnants in Kyoto, and find the bridge that my dad painted while on R&R from the Korean War on a visit to Osaka around 1953.