Last November the Guardian reported on a vast graveyard of dockless bikes in the Chinese city of Xiamen. I’ve just come back from three weeks in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and from what I saw in the Wenjiang district of that city, dockless bikes are alive and well. Here are some (plus a few personal bikes, each secured with a lock on one wheel and held up by a kickstand) outside a metro station. There are, I think, four companies active in that market. When I was in the same area four years ago, neither the metro station nor the dockless bikes existed – nor did many of the bike lanes now apparent. Nor, for that matter, the trees. Continue reading
Tomorrow I’m going to Chengdu, Sichuan, to teach for three weeks. You can find it on a map of China if you look inland, to the southwest. Heading west from Shanghai – far west – it’s the last big city, after that it’s mountains all the way to India. Simona, Leonardo and I were there four years ago. Before we left on that trip, I prepared by reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper, a memoir of her time as a cooking student in that city. Which is to say I was reading about food, which is one excellent reason to go there. On return to London I bought three of her cookbooks, (Land of Plenty [Sichuan], Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook [Hunan], and Every Grain of Rice), and they’ve been good investments.
From Ed Crooks in The Financial Times (register to get past paywall)
US charges Sinovel with trade secret theft
The US government has charged Sinovel, one of the largest Chinese wind turbine manufacturers, with stealing trade secrets from one of its US suppliers, alleging the offence amounted to “attempted corporate homicide”.
If we skip over the fact that this brings the personification of the corporation to a new and, well, corporeal level (I’ll leave that matter to Yves Smith), here’s your Rorschach: is Sinovel the hero and AMSC the villain, or vice versa? Continue reading
Glynn Moody has the story. Let it not be said that intellectual property rights are not respected in China – they seem to be playing the game just as written!
James Fallows, in The Atlantic, reminds us that one of the problems with Boeing’s Dreamliner has been excessive outsourcing. And he directs us to Charles Fishman‘s story, in the same publication, about some insourcing in General Electric’s household appliance manufacturing.
Fishman’s story is really two stories.
Red Dust (2002) is marketed as a travel book, and I picked it up because travel books are appreciated in my household – any interesting one is a good present to bring home. And it is a great travel book, an account of Ma’s wanderings around China in the mid-1980s, with the travel book requisites of an outsider’s empathetic but detached and wry observations about people and places we don’t know ourselves. The sense of the separation between places – especially in the countryside, where the country’s big cities, or any city at all, seem to have mythical status – is vividly conveyed, as are the institutions of party and state, which bind together and control even the most remote parts. Poverty and emerging wealth, material progress and pollution, cruelty and kindness are all delivered economically, showing rather than telling, mostly in sketches of people Ma meets and of their circumstances. Whether for understanding people, or the country in a particular period, the book is well worthwhile.
But if Red Dust is a travel book, then Homer’s Odyssey is a travel book. Continue reading