Our First Three Days in China

Three days into our trip to China, I finally have an opportunity to catch my blog up-to-date.  During our first two days in Xinchang, internet connection would not allow me to connect to the blog editor.  Now, in the larger city of Hangzhou, that problem no longer exists.

After what seemed like an interminable 14 ½ hour flight from Chicago to Shanghai, we were tired, but in China.  We had all been up at least 24 hours by then, though each of us did manage several naps on the long flight.  Here Sue Lin, Carol Rogow, and Joanne Whitlock get ready to go through the Chinese customs gate at the airport. 

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Four hours later, escorted by EKU graduate ZHOU, Menglai, we arrived at the very nice Bai Yuan Hotel.   Joanne and I were quartered in the Presidential Suite (living room below) and shortly after checking in we were fed a traditional Chinese meal, one dish of which is pictured.  The food, by the way, has been superb.

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Monday morning we were met at the hotel by LI, Chunbo, chairman of the Zheziang Medicine Company, Xinchang Pharma, our host and sponsor for our trip.  The sign in the background was a little over the top as far as I was concerned, but I think it shows the Chinese enthusiasm for our visit.

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At the company, we had a very informative and impressive presentation on its areas of activities and products.  It makes a wide range of pharmaceuticals, ranging from antibiotics to nutritional supplements.  Chairman Li took great and justifiable pride in the certifications and satisfaction of standards of drug agencies all around the world including the US FDA.  

EKU’s College of Business & Technology has had an agreement with ZMC for about 12 years.  Under this arrangement, ZMC sends promising managers to EKU to pursue a degree, usually the MBA.  EKU faculty also have the opportunity to visit the company.  Chairman LI and I signed an extension of this agreement to run through 2015.  In our discussions, he expressed an interest in broadening the relationship to include safety, environmental health and sanitation, technology, chemistry, and conceivably the EELI program.   A member of China’s delegation to the G8 summit, he impresses me as a forward and strategic thinker.   He wants to make his company a significant global player.  He realizes doing that will require a considerable investment in human capital, primarily professional development of ZMC’s work force (about 5,500 total).  He truly wants EKU to be a partner in furthering the education of his middle and upper level team. 

 

Later in the afternoon, we walked through Xinchang’s park, where I photographed two Buddhist monks enthusiastically texting on their cell phones.   This struck me as a seeming paradox between tradition and technology.   Later I caught the same two monks with the temple behind them.   A extremely large Buddha is in the temple, where photography is not allowed.

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Later, in downtown Xinchang, some of the ubiquitous pedicabs queued up for passengers. 

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Back at the hotel, we saw the future of China reflected in the face of this 18-month-old and pride shining in the face of her grandmother.

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Wednesday (today) we were off to Hangzhou, a city of about 5 million population.   We had some time for sight-seeing before another more official day tomorrow.  One of the highlights was a boat cruise on West Lake, declared by an earlier traveler here as the most beautiful lake in China.   That was Marco Polo’s opinion.   It was overcast, but I was able to get a shot of a shore side pagoda that figures in one of the region’s more colorful legends; sort of a Chinese Romeo and Juliet.  During a stroll through a lakeside park, we saw some pigeons that had gotten over whatever fear of humans they ever possessed.

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Later we visited the Six Harmonies Pagoda, a 13 story structure more than 500 years old.   Bob Rogow, Chang-Yang Lin, and I took a laborious stair step walk to its top.   If the day had been clear, the views would have been spectacular.

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This evening we attended the Impressions of West Lake show, a treat of music and interpretive dance that is a tribute to the Song Dynasty, for which Hangzhou was the capital.  Before the show, one scene of which is in the bottom shot, we happened on the act below.   You know, anymore it is really tough to see a monkey doing a handstand on the head of a goat which is atop a 5-foot step ladder.

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My impressions so far:  The Chinese are a warm hospitable people.  They are proud of what they are accomplishing and covet acknowledgement of their growing role on the world stage.  There is an incredible amount of construction underway, even during the current economic downturn, and much of that is on infrastructure projects.

Tomorrow we will visit Zhezhiang University of Technology and Aida Pharma, which is run by EKU graduate JIN, Xiao Yong.

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