Tag Archives: China

Notes from the field: when will autonomous delivery vehicles become a commonplace sight?

Autonomous delivery vehicles

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?

2019 highlights: two great Chinese history podcasts

two great Chinese history podcasts
Qufu City Wall

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

2019 Highlights: on the trail of the Duke of Zhou and the Yellow Emperor

Duke of Zhou Temple Qufu
Duke of Zhou Temple, Qufu

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

2019 highlights: beyond the standard Qufu tourist circuit

Qufu tourist circuit - Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother
Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother

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

2019 highlights: Qufu Confucius Museum and LSEVs

Qufu Confucius Museum

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.

The museum was impressive in architectural terms and had a fine collection of Shang and Zhou dynasty ritual vessels, but the scarcity of English language descriptions of the exhibits makes it hard work for overseas visitors who are unable to read Chinese. Continue reading 2019 highlights: Qufu Confucius Museum and LSEVs

Notes from the field: the Temple of the Duke of Zhou

Temple of the Duke of Zhou

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

Notes from the field: Confucius Museum in Qufu

Confucius museum in Qufu

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

Leadership lessons from Confucius: special relationships

special relationships

子曰:「晏平仲善與人交,久而敬之。」
Confucius said: “Yan Pingzhong was adept at cultivating relationships with other people: the longer he knew them, the greater the respect they would show towards him.”

When you start doing business in China, chances are that it won’t be long before you meet someone who claims to have special relationships or connections (关系/guānxì) with important people in the government, universities, and major companies who can help speed up the wheels of bureaucracy or help give you undreamed access to the domestic market. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: special relationships

Cherry blossoms and unmanned delivery vehicles

cherry blossoms

I’m back in Shanghai for the first time since the start of the Lunar New Year. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the cherry blossoms are blooming. Who needs springtime in Paris?

I’m here to take part in the 9th China International New Energy and Intelligence Vehicle Forum (NEV China 2019), which takes place tomorrow and Wednesday. At the event we will be talking about our future development plans for VIA Mobile360 autonomous driving platforms, not to mention demonstrating the “Little Lion” unmanned delivery vehicle from our partner Aisimba featuring our technology. Continue reading Cherry blossoms and unmanned delivery vehicles