In October, 2005 I spent a month in China, traveling across the country and investigating its semiconductor and electronics industries, with the goal of separating the reality from the hype. An excellent opportunity to stretch my wings a bit professionally — but it turned out to be a bit of a watershed event, personally.
While travel abroad certainly wasn’t new to me, it was the first time I had the opportunity to spend that much time in one country, mixing with the locals, eating their food, and learning their culture. I think I learned as much about myself as I did about China, and I often think about going back. In spite of what can be said of China’s government and politics, both external and internal, its people and its culture are amazing.
I more or less decided on the plane home to America that I wanted to not just travel but live abroad, and began to think seriously about making it happen. You see, I’d picked up a disease while in China; I’d gotten the bug, as one expat I met on my travels put it. Four years and two months later, I bought a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia. But I digress.
The powers-that-be at the now defunct Electronic News dubbed the project the Silicon Road, a play on China’s Silk Road, obviously. The project had its own microsite at Reed Electronics’ Web site; the Silicon Road site aggregated all of the copy I filed from China, along with a corresponding blog and photos from my travels.
Anyway, those travels started out in Beijing, where I was graciously hosted and assisted by colleagues at Electronic Business China (EB China was an ENews sister pub — also long gone). They were invaluable to me, assisting me on the ground and providing a student interpreter who accompanied me on most of my trip; he also proved invaluable.
Then we moved onto Shenyang (via overnight train, sharing a room on a sleeper with two other curious Chinese travelers) in northeast China; back down to Shanghai; onto Xiamen, a former Dutch colony on the coast across from Taiwan; inland to Chengdu, capital of Szechuan province (and home to some of the best food in the world); and finally to bustling Shenzhen and Hong Kong, that international jewel of a city.
The Silicon Road microsite is long gone along with Electronic News, but the news stories from China remain on EDN. The blog was still there for a couple years, but it is now gone, as well. Fortunately, when I got laid off from ENews in the spring of 2006, I had the foresight to grab a copy (albeit an unwieldy one ) of the microsite using Adobe Acrobat. I’ve used that to reproduce the blog entries here.
As explained at length elsewhere, I’ve also reproduced here many of the news stories that I filed from China as part of the project. While those stories can still be found in the EDN archives, (and I have linked to them in the body of each story reposted here), they are getting more difficult to find with the passing years.
Rather than wait for them to suffer the same fate as the blog, I’ve chosen to preserve them, as I’ve done with my other clips, for antiquity. No more having to worry about losing clips to ownership and content management system changes. No more updating links.
And before you ask, yes, I ate dog, among many other exotic things; no, I didn’t eat monkey brains. Pretty sure that one is a myth, at least as far as China is concerned.
Below listed in reverse chronological order (newest first) is all of the Silicon Road copy; if you want to view the news separate from the blog entries, click on the corresponding links above (the magic of WordPress as CMS).
Between year-end deadlines and the MidWest and Appalachia getting hammered by an early Winter, I haven’t been posting here as much as I had planned, but that’s neither here nor there. In the course of conducting interviews for year-end stories that will be appearing on Electronic News over the course of the next few weeks, almost invariably people want to pick my brain about China, or just hear first hand about my trip. That’s not really surprising, nor have peoples’ own various impressions of China at the moment,...read more
Startups all across China in the technology sector are looking for seed money and second-and third-round investments, and are courting foreign as well as local investors, particularly U.S.-based venture firms. But are the American VCs interested? Do they share in the buzz, the excitement about China? They most certainly do; the answer is definitely yes. But it’s a qualified yes. American VCs aren’t just handing out money at the drop of a Chinese hat. While there is perhaps a bit of a gold rush mentality in the semiconductor...read more
So you’ve decided you need to have a presence on the ground in China. Or you’ve decided it’s time to move some manufacturing to China, or expand the sales offices you have there. Then the question becomes where do you go in China to set up shop? It’s a big question, and not one with the clear-cut answers it had just a few short years ago. At first glance, it might seem obvious: if you’re talking about electronics manufacturing, then Shenzhen, China’s richest city, is the place to go. If you’re talking...read more
Where should you set up shop in China? What about where I would set up shop in China?read more
Well, it’s been a week since I’ve returned to the United States from my month in China, and I finally seem to be back on a Western hemisphere rhythm. For several days following my return home to West Virginia, after a few days in the office on the left coast, I could not stay up past 8 p.m. I would try and try to stay awake, but to no avail, promptly waking up 3:15 a.m. or so. But that’s the rather mundane aspect of my experience; after a month in China some of the things that I would normally take for granted seem strange....read more
HONG KONG — Boy oh boy, what a place to end a month-long Chinese sojourn. I arrived here this afternoon; the sun is setting on my last night in China. But then Hong Kong isn’t really China, in the same sense that San Francisco isn’t really the United States. It’s in the United States, but it isn’t an American city. Just like no country can really claim its bustling port cities as their own, it’s clear even after just a few hours that Hong Kong is a unique place. Hong Kong isn’t Chinese, it’s...read more