Bits and Pieces from Around the Web

On the heels of yesterday's news about China's World Cup draw, the team manager (not coach), has called it China's "worst draw ever." This will be China's 8th attempt at qualifying, only once has the team been successful.

In other sporting news, check out some interesting articles on golf in China, as well as a book project on the subject, at Par for China (h/t to Shanghaiist).

A very scary picture is painted of how one goes about setting up a company when challenged with bribery and corruption in smaller towns in China in this article on Danwei. However, I'm left to wonder how much of this bribery would have been necessary and how much of it was just the wrong strategy by the business owners who implemented it. The article seems to state that they never tried taking a more normal path and instead resorted to bribery from the get go.

CLB's entry on advice for anyone who wants to break into the Chinese law field is interesting and mirrors most of what I tell people when I get the same question. Like any specialized area, networking is crucial and keeping up to date on the important changes also can go a long way.

And I'm a day late and dollar short as everyone and his brother has already linked to the NY Times article on Rock in China, but here goes. For my money, the most interesting change over the past 2-3 years has been the diversity of the acts who are coming over. In the past, it used to be limited to the pop "tarts", but now hip hop, hard rock, and alternative are all growing. It would have been interesting if the article looked at Okayplayer's focus on China, considering in the past 2 years Common, The Roots, and Talib Kweli have all made stops here. In any case, here's hoping Jay-Z will try again and this time be allowed to do his big pimpin' in Beijing.

Group of Death Awaits China

A quick note, the draw for the 3rd Round of Asian Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa took place today and China was drawn in the "Group of Death." China will be stuck going up against Australia as well as the defending Asian Cup champions, Iraq. Rounding out the group is a strong Qatar side.

The Chinese FA is looking a bit bruised right now, considering the men failed to get out of the group stages in the Asian Cup and the women couldn't get past the Quarterfinals despite home field advantage in the World Cup. Vladimir Petrovic, the coach appointed after the Asian Cup debacle, is certainly going to have an uphill battle to get China into the World Cup. Only the top 2 teams in each group advance to the next round of qualifying, so China's in for a real battle. Perhaps the difficulty of the group will cause the always high expectations to be lowered a bit, but there is no reason why China shouldn't be able to get past this group, though this is the sort of thing you hear from Chinese soccer fans all the time, right before another disaster takes place.

The only other very interesting tidbit from the draw was that North and South Korea were drawn in the same group, those will certainly be two very exciting matches!


A Strange Moment, Passed...

The events of 1989 affected my family deeply in a number of different ways. People willing to help the students or who were close to the students suffered silent (and not so silent) embarrassment and retribution at work and in their community. I've heard stories about some of the partners who I work alongside and their connection to the events of that summer, always on the periphery, but they knew what really happened.

That said, it was kind of strange at lunch yesterday when I mentioned the location of my new apartment only to be told by the partner I was eating with, "Oh, there...I had a friend who was injured there, well...was shot there."

Looking out from my office window at JianWai and ChangAn in the distance, it still feels like there are ghosts in this city.


Is the iPhone taking over China?

Wired has a really interesting story on iPhones in China discussing how readily available they are now and how popular they've become. I know about the black market versions (ie most likely fakes) and when in Shenzhen I saw a few authorized Apple dealers that had unlocked iPhones in stock (this is not to say they don't exist in Beijing, I just haven't been shopping here that much). However, I've yet to come across anyone using an iPhone in China. My feeling is that Wired overstates the trend.

The number of authorized Apple dealers has certainly skyrocketed over the past few years and genuine Apple products are fairly easy to find, however the price still prevents many Chinese from purchasing them. In Shenzhen, where free wireless is abundant, it was common to see a number of foreigners using Apple, but you'd rarely see Chinese using them. Also, on the subway, foreigners seemed to be the sole users of iPods. In my short time in Beijing, I've noticed a number of Chinese iPod users, but that's about it. And when it comes to computer usage in China, it seems like there is only one choice for business people, Lenovo/IBM.

Apple definitely has room, and potential, to grow in China, but I think its still far from that point. Like in the US, I believe the cheaper, cool items like the iPod and iPhone will serve as a gateway, people will get hooked and then end up buying the computers, like in the US. The Wired story captures the iPhone/Apple popularity in China, but it is discussing a basically non-existent trend, though its easy to imagine that iPods and iPhones will be as ubiquitous in China could come close to matching the US if given more time.


A Night of Drama (aka False Hope at FengTi?)

Wednesday, 19:30 Hours, Fengtai Sports Stadium/Shenzhen Sports Stadium

Beijing Guoan has led the CSL in attendance for most of the season and fans who make the hike out to Fengtai have been given something to cheer about as the boys in green sit just 1 point behind the Dongbei outfit, Changchun Yatai (52 points). Changchun will face off with season long bottom feeders in Shenzhen, though Shenzhen is clear from relegation and will have nothing to play for but pride. Beijing, on the other hand, will have a much more difficult tilt against a far more motivated opponent, with Shandong Lvneng, currently sitting in 3d place on 48 points, coming to the capital city. The result in Beijing could be rendered moot if Shenzhen lays down and plays dead like they have all season, but if they can come together and pull off a draw (a victory is almost unthinkable, even for the most optimistic Beijing or Shenzhen supporter) it could be a very festive atmosphere in the capital. On top of this, there is a good chance it will rain and possibly even snow tomorrow night in Beijing, so its surely going to be a unique experience. Changchun, the newly promoted side would seemingly be (MLF runs to the research books) the first ever newly promoted team to win the league title the next season. Beijing would also be making history, for despite a number of Cup successes and painfully close calls, they've yet to secure a Jia A/CSL title, making tomorrow an exciting night for all Chinese soccer fans!