Archive for August, 2007

Hong Kong & Shenzhen

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

The skies over Hong Kong were quite beautiful on this trip in early August — no air pollution in sight!! The trip itself was a rather busy one, visiting several clients and potential clients in HK and Shenzhen.

A couple of interesting points: I had lunch with Jolene Lin, an environmental lawyer from Singapore whom I had met at NYU several years ago. Jolene has studied and written about emissions trading in China (I cited some of her work in my recent China urban energy paper), and she has now moved to HK and will begin teaching environmental law at the University of Hong Kong this Fall.

‘Green Hero’ Hubert Tose

My IETG colleague Hubert Tose was dubbed a “Green Hero” in the August 2007 issue of Hong Kong Tatler magazine, along with Christine Loh, Michele Weldon, and others at the think tank Civic Exchange. I guess this just shows that I hang around with the right people in HK!!

City of Darkness

And on this trip I finally located an (affordable!) copy of City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City, a photo book by Greg Girard & Ian Lambot showing the rather infamous (i.e., lawless & somewhat shady) urban compound that played such an important role in both Martin Booth’s Gweilo and William Gibson’s Idoru (a couple of books noted in earlier postings). The Walled City was located immediately west of HK’s former Kai Tak airport, but was torn down in the early 1990s.

And speaking of notable reading material — on a recent trip to Naples (Italy), I came across two books: one a cultural history of the city (written by a professor); and the other a story about the author’s quixotic experience of the city while falling in love with a beautiful Neapolitan woman. There was a collective groan at the dinner table when I told my family that I had picked up and read only the professor’s book — and my daughters made very clear that I was not to make that same mistake again.

So my recent Hong Kong reading included two books: Jan Morris’ classic travel writing about the city, delving into its distinctive colonial past and the end-of-an-era transfer back to China, and also — as noted in a previous posting — Richard Mason’s The World of Suzie Wong. I enjoyed them both very much.

Morris recently turned eighty years old, and a tribute book by her travel-writing acolytes highlighted the way she is “historian, diarist, journalist, and at her best combines these attributes into an intense and lasting impressionism” — which pretty much describes what she did in her book about HK. The prologue to the most recent reprint finds her almost melancholy, however, lamenting the passing of the former colonial city already receding both in physical terms and in time.

Mason’s book was also pretty good, although — as more than one critic has noted — all of the men in the book come off as complete idiots. I rented the 1960 movie upon returning home, and (as with the case of Topkapi below) found the backgrounds and city street scenes more interesting than the movie’s presentation of the plot. William Holden didn’t quite fit my image of the artistic Robert Lomax — although even his casting seemed inspired compared with Broadway’s William Shatner. But Suzie’s Hong Kong is gone now as well (although perhaps not quite as distant in the minds of all those idiot men?)

[Which led me to ponder: Jan Morris was still James Morris during Suzie’s 1950’s era, before that rather significant operation; perhaps a doubled sense of loss contributed to her heightened sense of nostalgia??? But I’m afraid that I’ve now strayed far, far away from relevant ‘Raufer Updates’ material — & promise to return to technical stuff in the next HK posting!]

Beijing & Shanghai

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

In August 2007 I did another series of presentations about the carbon market for CLSA clients, this time in Beijing and Shanghai. Other highlights of the trip:

Prof. Shao Min at Beida

I had a chance to visit Beijing University once again, and have lunch with Professor Shao Min and his wife, Zhao Meiping (another environmental chemist at the University, who works on endocrine disruptors). Professor Shao and I had worked together addressing NOx emissions in Guangzhou, and he filled me in about his current ambient monitoring efforts both there and in Beijing in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. I also arranged a business dinner for some Beijing colleagues at South Beauty, a Sichuan restaurant in the China World Center recommended by former UN colleague Rose Wang (now at J.P. Morgan Chase in New York). I’m usually not a fan of spicy food, but Rose’s suggestion was superb!

Shanghai Skyline

And Shanghai was hectic & busy as usual — but I stayed an extra day, and took some time off to walk around the city on an exceedingly warm day. Luckily, I made it back to the hotel near the Bund just before a late afternoon downpour — and sat in the bar watching the rain beat down on the hotel’s see-through atrium roof, quaffing an ice cold beer. Not a bad life, huh?? On this trip I was reading the latest Qiu Xiaolong novel about Inspector Chen Cao, the poetry-spouting/gourmet police inspector of the Shanghai Police Bureau. This is Qiu’s fourth novel, & I’ve enjoyed them all — although I still like the first one best.