I have been travelling with the BC Government’s Trade Mission to Asia over the last ten days. While ostensibly promoting BC’s natural gas exports, there have been lots of discussions about many aspects of our relationships with China, South Korea and Japan (the 3 countries of focus on this mission).
This is the first such trip I’ve been on and, aside from the obvious benefit of meeting with potential international partners and investors; it is a good opportunity to get some serious face time with government, industry, union and educational colleagues from BC. It is amazing how much work you can get done at a networking event, and I have a long list of people and ideas to follow up on when I get back this week.
It started in Chengdu, which is the last big city going west before you hit the Himalayas. I visited South West University for Nationalities, which has a mandate to primarily serve 55 minority nations in China (the most well-known to us being the Mongolian, Tibetan, Manchurian and Yi). A lot of effort is being made to preserve cultures and remove barriers to full participation in Chinese society, though I have friends who scoff at any such effort for the Tibetans, declaring it to be tokenism. One does wonder, when visiting the magnificent Tibetan museum on campus, where the sacred texts and artifacts came from and how.
The faculty in Sociology and Psychology were very engaging, and would not be out of place at KPU where we also work hard to understand and support our many diverse populations.
The food of course is always amazing:
Then by train to Chongqing, which is huge, and where the mission put on a great show. Here is a shot of old China in front of the 1950s’ style, which in in front of the new China: there are more construction cranes in the skies above the cities than you can count.
From Chongqing to Beijing, this is where most of the signing of agreements occurred. We signed two agreements. The first one with the Beijing University for Chinese Medicine, a very large and serious place, and there are lots of opportunities for collaboration in research and programming with them. The second agreement was with Taiyuan University of Technology, where we can see all sorts of possibilities.
From there to Zhengzhou and about an hour outside is a new polytechnic university in Xinxiang, where we shared a draft MOU on professional development for Xinxiang faculty and staff.
The last stop in China was Shanghai, where I stayed in the older, very European influenced area in a former English concession.
I also sampled a very new, sparkling and rich area of the city on the other side of the Yangtze River: this is the part that everyone focuses on these days, and the wealth and the luxury are overwhelming.
Finally, for me at any rate, we departed Shanghai and headed to Tokyo, which I love. Despite the doom and gloom we hear a lot about for Japan post-Fukushima Daiichi, things looked pretty good.
Everything works in Japan, and the investment in infrastructure (transportation, education, health, etc.) is evident everywhere. Of course, Japan carries the largest public debt anywhere too, but the debt is its own, and the Japanese certainly get a lot for it.
Aside from the trade mission events, I visited Toyo University, with which we have an agreement for the exchange of students, and the first two students from Toyo joined KPU this year. Here I am with some of the international students in the “English only” zone.
And with Dr.Takemura, president of Toyo University.
Every town has a shrine, and here I am with my guide, Mr. Nishimura outside the Hakusan Shrine, where people come to pray for good luck when writing exams,etc. We’ll work on one for KPU……