Monday, March 16, 2015

Mission Accomplished
Yesterday, the cooperation agreement with the University of Shandong was finalized with a ceremonial signing and the exchanging of gifts before the flags of both countries.  Afterwards, there was a ritual banquet.

 Such formality is considered essential to make things official, but since I am inclined to be snarky, I wondered if we were negotiating nuclear disarmament or academic exchanges.

The objectives of this project were to further develop our relationship with North China Institute of Commerce and Technology, to establish a new partnership with Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology, and to formalize a new program at Shandong University, Weihai.  Successful with all of them, we begin our journey home to the States later today.  
Great Firewall

This is the downside of being in China. For the last 24 hours, I have been shut out of email. Even the brand new address Dennis Cope created for me wasn't working. I  couldn't see any incoming mail, nor send anything.  The Internet was functioning. The problem was what is euphemistically called “Information control”—censorship, in other words.  In China, many websites are blocked, and the minute one says anything remotely controversial, one’s email is discontinued.

It’s scary when this happens, particularly when I’m traveling solo.  Eventually, my access reopened.  It’s all made to look completely accidental.  A thousand thank yous to Dennis Cope who manages my blog site  and runs interference.    

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Yesterday, we toured the Weihai peninsula and then caught a ferry to Linguon Island, site of many battles between the Chinese and Japanese in both World War II   and the Sino-Japanese War. The wounds of these conflicts have not healed, and there is still much bitterness toward the Japanese.
One exhibit tells the story of a Chinese family whose ten members jumped down a well rather than be captured by the Japanese.

 Today, this beautiful island is peaceful with gardens, a temple, and monuments to the dead. There are several historical museums and even a zoo.  Cable cars in an array of bright colors carry their passengers to a pagoda at the top of the mountain.


Yesterday, we visited the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, a complex of ancient stone buildings with ornate doorways, courtyards, and old trees. It is built on a hillside, and one gradually ascends to the higher levels via stone stairs.  At the Temple’s entrance is a reminder that everyone, even the highest official ought to show Confucius respect.
Confucius was not a god, but a teacher and social philosopher. He lived between 551 and 480 BC, a chaotic period in the history of China. His ethical teachings, which resemble those of all the great religions, greatly influenced Chinese thought.

Each day, there is a ceremony at the Temple venerating the sage.  When government officials visit, the ceremony is more elaborate, and we were fortunate to visit on one of these days. Trumpets were sounded, and incense burned. Red robed celebrants carrying peacock feathers brought flowers to and altar where incense burned.  There is something universal about reverence.  

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...