China Diary:

[Returning to Shanghai] [Spring Festival] [Chinese New Year] [Fulbright Mid-Year Conference] [Back to School] [Back Online] [Into the Heartland] [Ancient Capitals] [Judeo-Christian Holidays] [From Albany to Zurich] [Yellow Mountain] [Loose Ends] [Hello, Debbie ... Goodbye, Debbie] [Southern Capital] [Tropical Tour] [Unwinding] [Farewell Banquets] [Winding Down] [Good Bye, Shanghai]

June 1: Children’s Day – Today China celebrates its children. Most families abide by the country’s one-child policy, raising a generation of little princes and princesses. Since neither I nor my office neighbor have our kids here, we go off for dinner together and compare our experiences, expectations, and aspirations. He was an undergraduate student at Fudan, went to France for his Ph.D. (first learning French in three months), and taught in Montreal for about eight years where his wife and daughter still live. One of his colleagues comes into the faculty dining room as we finish, and it turns out he has been to my home institution several times and is professionally active with some of my colleagues there. It’s a small world after all. We talk about our research a bit and agree to stay in touch. Later that evening, I bike to the SAS Radisson where a U.S. business school contingent is staying while they tour Shanghai and participate in a banking conference at Fudan. It is a successful exchange program with Fudan’s School of Management and Economics Department, having received Fudan students at the U.S. a few weeks ago. While the students work on a joint project the adults have a beer.

June 2: The End of "Business Ethics" – This is the last session for the course I am teaching for MIT’s International MBA Program. Fittingly, we discuss the role of technology as a social force. When the session ends, I get a polite applause. It is not the spontaneous standing ovation one hopes for, but everyone is happy. Afterward, one of my students takes me downtown for dinner and a tour. We wander the Bund, and for the first time I get to read the plaques on the old colonial buildings. Later we take the ferry to Pu Dong, and for the first time I get a close-up look of the Oriental Pearl Tower. But mostly we just chat about the class, the material, current events in China, and cross-cultural similarities and differences.

June 3: MBA Playoffs – For the first time since Debbie arrived, I do some grocery shopping. (I haven’t been back to E-Mart since her first trip there months ago.) On the way, I return the loaned printer to the Waiban office, its ink cartridge already dried out. It is scorching out, and after doing some laundry and other odds and ends I go to the courts and shoot for about an hour until a couple of MBA students arrive. We then shoot some more but I am pretty shot. Be evening, we head off for dinner at the Red Wall. The company account picks up the tab.

June 4: Taking Chances – I have a morning meeting with some managers at Bao Steel. It goes well as we discuss research and writing a case. I give my usual pitch about how Chinese businesses are unimaginative, slow to innovate, and punish failure. ("Everyone should be allowed to make a mistake once," I insist, "As long as that mistake is not repeated in the organization.") I receive a present of Dragon Well tea from Hangzhou, and we continue our conversation in the company restaurant. Back home, I make contact with my Fudan colleague who is also interested in restructuring State-Owned Enterprises. In the evening, I meet Akif and we stop at Malone’s before going to Movie Night to see "Rounders" which is about gambling. After, we make a few rounds of our own. Later as I am being driven home by a half-Russian, half-Chinese who has been drinking hard all night I can’t help thinking about dying in an automobile accident on the streets of Shanghai. [BEIJING (AP) - "Police kept tight watch Friday to prevent public mourning on the 10th anniversary of the bloody end of the 1989 democracy demonstrations. Relatives of victims took flowers to their graves, and a man briefly raised a white umbrella marked with slogans near Tiananmen Square. Police stopped the middle-aged man after he raised the umbrella and walked across a small stone bridge below the portrait of Mao Tse-tung that hangs on Tiananmen Gate, the entry to the imperial palace on the north side of Tiananmen Square. A uniformed officer took the umbrella away and put his arm firmly around the man’s waist, and a plainclothes officer helped lead the man to a car. Within minutes, the protest was finished and the car gone."]

June 5-6: Weekend Relaxing – I spend Saturday doing some errands and preparing my last series of guest lectures on cross-cultural management these next two weeks. In the evening, I meet Maurice at the Tribesman Pub for some very loud music and a few cold ones. Mike, who met Debbie downtown a few months ago, shows up with his friend who works for an English-language newspaper the city government is getting ready to publish. (Maurice moonlights for a local news station.) The far-ranging conversation includes Tiananmen’s tenth anniversary and the Belgrade embassy bombing, as well as rock-and-roll and control of the press. Ironically, we also meet someone who works for the city planning office but we politely avoid discussing politics. Jackie comes over Sunday after 11:00 a.m. to help me work on my cross-cultural management presentation, and I take him to lunch so we can finish our meeting. Among the dishes, I decide on a mushroom omelet so I request ji-dan (egg) mogu (mushroom). They do not have it on the menu and never heard of it, but I repeat my request and they deliver. Perhaps it will appear on the next menu; it is nice to know you can change some things in China. Jackie is defending his masters thesis next week on the subject and has some interesting findings so we continue nibbling on our meal and nursing our beers into mid-afternoon. Later that evening, Akif calls and asks me to meet him downtown for dinner and drinks.

[Returning to Shanghai] [Spring Festival] [Chinese New Year] [Fulbright Mid-Year Conference] [Back to School] [Back Online] [Into the Heartland] [Ancient Capitals] [Judeo-Christian Holidays] [From Albany to Zurich] [Yellow Mountain] [Loose Ends] [Hello, Debbie ... Goodbye, Debbie] [Southern Capital] [Tropical Tour] [Unwinding] [Farewell Banquets] [Winding Down] [Good Bye, Shanghai]


Copyright 1999 Paul Miesing. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission unless in the People’s Republic of China which does not enforce intellectual property rights. Revised on January 17, 2001.