Published: September 16th 2012September 12th 2012
There are two pieces of news top of mind for almost all of my students. First, the release of the IPhone 5. Students at HUST seem to follow the activities of Apple more than they follow any other piece of news. They're all excited to see what the new version of the phone offers. It's scheduled to be released here next month.
I wondered why the IPhone hasn't been copied by somebody in China. While you can download new American movies on the web for free almost immediately on thier release (or even before) and you can buy copies of designer almost anything on most streets, students tell me that the Chinese government has a strict policy regarding copying technology.
The other news on everyone's mind is a current dispute with Japan over a tiny set of uninhabited islands off the coast, Diaoyu Islands. This dispute carries with it all of the historic hatred the Chinese have for the Japanese. This dispute has been going on since World War II, when the US decided unilaterally to draw some territorial lines after the armistace, giving Diaoyu Islands to Japan. Japan then sold the islands to a Japanese businessman. Now, Japan
has offered to purchase the islands back from the current owners, setting off bitter diplomatic battles and angering the Chinese. China claims the Islands had long been Chinese territory and they don't understand why the US gave the land to Japan, an American enemy during WW II. There appears to be real saber rattling, at least in speeches and in public sentiment, as many seem prepared to go to war with Japan on this matter.
The Islands carry some strategic importance for whichever country controls them. And, for China, at least, they definitely carry an element of saving face in the world of international diplomacy.
I was out walking in a small town with a student of mine and as Chinese greeted me, he tells me they also wanted to know if I supported China on the Diaoyu Islands issue. It seemed likely things would get ugly if I said "no".
The HUST campus where I’m teaching is large and dense. I’ve heard various counts of the population of the campus, but the most repeated number is something around 90,000.
When not discussing the IPhone 5 or Diaoyu Island, I love biking around campus. Even though
this is my third time here, there’s always a road I haven’t gone down or a road that’s changed so much due to recent construction that I hardly recognize it.
The campus is a picture of contrasts. It celebrates its 60th
Anniversary this year. Some buildings appear not to have been touched in all those years, while others are new. Though estimating the age of Chinese buildings can be a challenge. The building I teach in opened just 7 years ago, but has aged as if it were built in the early 70’s or before.
HUST is generally considered one of the top 10 universities in China and maybe the first in some science and technology areas. The areas of studies the Chinese government is investing in are clear from the condition of the buildings. The general education buildings are somewhat ramshackle, though all classrooms are equipped with a computer and projection equipment. The buildings housing the Business, Engineering, and Computer Science buildings are all new and better equipped.
Beyond buildings, there’s always something going on that catches my eye. During the first 3 weeks of the school year, every freshman, male and female, must go through obligatory
military training. I invariably run into long lines of students marching to their military workouts.
More to come....
There are more photos below