We started Tuesday with a meeting at the US Embassy Commercial Office. After telling us that he wouldn't talk just from the standard slides that he had, our host proceeded to talk about the statistics and slides that he had for us. Unfortunately much of it covered a lot of the material that we had already studied for the class. It was interesting to have a brief discussion about the danger of China in relying exclusively on nationalism and economic growth to support their country. It was also interesting to talk about the sustainability of China's production of cheap material products while without doing anything about the environmental and social externalities.
Our following presentation was at the Bank of China with an alumni of Daniels College of Business. Though his English had suffered a little in returning to Beijing, his knowledge of business seemed much greater than the American representative we met earlier. He expertly answered our questions about banking in China in general and The Bank of China specifically.
After our business visits we had a quick change on the bus before going to lunch at a delicious Beijing noodle place. Though we were stuffed and I was ready for nap, we pushed on to The Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square. While the structures were beautiful and the courtyards were intricate, it was starting to become more of the same. Tienanmen Square was closed off for some Olympic ceremony, but it looked just as impressive from the side, bordered by imposing government buildings. Whether it was the ancient city or the Communist-era square, the role of big government was obvious.
After having problems meeting up with a reception we were to have with future incoming students back at the hotel, I went off to join my friends at the silk market. Talk about pressure sales. Every few feet brought a fresh round of sellers trying to get you to look at their merchandise. Walking down a row of shops was like going through a gauntlet. It really put me out of the mood to buy.
For dinner my friends and I had a wonderful hot pot meal far from the beaten path of most tourists. Each of us sat around a table with a burner, pot of mushroom-vegetable broth, bowl of delicious sauce, and plate. In the middle of the table were plates of thinly sliced beef and mutton. We would dish the meat into our boiling hot pots, wait a few seconds for it to cook, dip it in the sauce, and then eat it. It was the best meal of the trip so far.
The night ended with a walk down a street of food vendors near our hotel. It was there that we found fried scorpions and had to see what they were like. They tasted mostly crunchy and salty with a little bit of chewy meat inside. Altogether it was a day that truly demonstrated the juxtaposition of Communism and the new market society in China.