In the first half of January I’d normally be in China attending company events in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen celebrating the impending arrival of the Lunar New Year. This year, of course, that isn’t possible so all our events will be virtual.
While I can’t say that I’ll miss the early morning rides to the airport, the security lines, or the flight delays, I would have enjoyed catching up with my team members in person and thanking them for their outstanding work in rising to the past year’s many challenges. No matter how far remote working technology has progressed, it still doesn’t quite deliver the impact of face-to-face communication! Continue reading Notes from the field: a virtual build up to the Lunar New Year→
A couple of glorious hikes up the Four Beasts this weekend inspired some thoughts about the rising flood of rumors about Apple developing a car.
While I have no way of knowing whether these rumors are true, they certainly do not come as much of a surprise. Forget analyst noise about low margins and other challenges of entering the automotive market. From a strategic perspective, Apple has no choice but to join the fray in order to establish leadership in the development and integration of emerging AI, Lidar, cloud, wireless, and related autonomous driving technologies. If it does not, the company risks falling behind others that are already taking the leap. Continue reading Notes from the field: Apple car rumors not much of a surprise→
How long will it be before autonomous delivery vehicles become a commonplace sight on the streets of our towns and cities?
Perhaps this will happen much sooner than many people think. Demand for such devices looks set to explode as delivery and logistics companies look to reduce operational costs and expand the range and convenience of the services they offer without having to hire additional drivers. According to a recent AutoSens blog article, there are already over thirty companies providing autonomous delivery solutions in China – with many more expected to pile into the market. In the US, a growing number of retailers such as Walmart, Kroger, Lowes, and Target have also started testing autonomous deliveries using vehicles from the likes of Nuro, Ford, and Waymo. Continue reading Notes from the field: when will autonomous delivery vehicles become a commonplace sight?→
I can’t close the year of 2019 without giving a huge vote of thanks to Laszlo Montgomery and Chris Stewart for their incredible dedication in writing and producing my two favorite podcasts about China’s history. Both programs are absolute goldmines of information and insight about this rich and complex topic. I have no idea how they find the time to carry out all the research and writing required to produce such high-quality content on such a consistent basis. Their obvious passion is truly inspiring!
The China History podcast was started in June 9, 2010. It covers a dizzying array of topics – from art, literature, and philosophy to the rise and fall of each dynasty, great figures in Chinese history, and even the 1930s Shanghai jazz scene. Laszlo Montgomery’s deep knowledge of China and his enthusiasm for its language, history, and culture shines brightly through his inimitable narrative style. You can visit the China History podcast website here. Continue reading 2019 highlights: two great Chinese history podcasts→
Walking around the center of modern-day Qufu, it can be difficult to appreciate the influence that this small city had on the early political and cultural development of China. Not only is it said to be the home of the legendary Yellow Emperor, one of the mythical five Emperors who is regarded by some as the creator of Chinese culture. It also wielded tremendous soft power during the Zhou dynasty as the capital of the state of Lu, which was granted to Confucius’s great hero, the Duke of Zhou, as a fiefdom by the grateful young King Cheng for the dedication he showed in building the foundations of the nascent dynasty during his regency.
Although the duke never actually visited Qufu because he had far more important affairs at the Zhou court to take care of, his association with the city elevated its importance to previously unimaginable heights. The construction of a magnificent temple to honor him further helped to promote the image of Qufu throughout the land and to enable the state of Lu to punch above its weight on the Zhou dynasty political and cultural stage. Continue reading 2019 Highlights: on the trail of the Duke of Zhou and the Yellow Emperor→
There’s a lot more to see than the usual stops on the standard Qufu tourist circuit of the Temple of Confucius, the Kong Mansion, and the Kong Forest. Not surprisingly, many of these sights are related to the Confucius, but if you’ve already imbibed too much sagely wisdom and history you can simply relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Two spots that immediately spring to mind are the cemeteries of Mencius, second only to the sage himself in the Confucian pantheon, and his formidable mother, which I visited in October this year. Cemetery is probably the wrong word to describe these two places. Forest, the literal meaning of the Chinese word (林/lín), is a much more appropriate name because the graves of son and mother and a few other notables and relatives are surrounded by pristine woods comprising cypress, oak, elm, and maple trees that go back as far as two thousand years. Continue reading 2019 highlights: beyond the standard Qufu tourist circuit→
From Wuzhen, I took a five-hour high speed train ride via the Shanghai Hongqiao station to Qufu in order to see the sights I missed during my first trip there a couple of years ago and visit the recently opened Confucius Museum.
No trip to Qufu should be complete without a visit to the Temple of the Duke of Zhou. The traditional Zhou dynasty rituals that were carried out at the temple in honor of Confucius’s great hero were the primary source of inspiration for the sage’s philosophy and teachings. They provided the living and breathing symbols that fueled his calls for a return to the golden age at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty when China reached its zenith under the duke’s wise and benign leadership.
The Duke of Zhou (周公) was the fourth son of King Wen of Zhou (周文王), the spiritual founder of the Zhou dynasty. He played an instrumental role in helping his second oldest brother, King Wu (周武王), to defeat the Shang dynasty (商朝) at the Battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in around 1046 BCE and formally establish the dynasty. Continue reading Notes from the field: the Temple of the Duke of Zhou→
Having recently read about the opening of the new Confucius Museum in Qufu, I decided it would be worth having a look at it during this trip to China and so took a train here from Wuzhen this morning.
The museum is located about 5km south of the center of Qufu. A taxi there from the city center cost me 20RMB and took about 15 minutes. The building housing the museum looks stunning from the outside with its ultra-modern design. Its interior is also very attractive with a circular tower of books arranged in patterns forming the centerpiece. Continue reading Notes from the field: Confucius Museum in Qufu→