Archive for the ‘Beijing University’ Category

Foreign students banned from Beijing during Olympics?

April 18, 2008

China is not only making it hard for Chinese students to enjoy the Olympic games, there is also a yet not confirmed but widely circulated rumor that foreign students will be banned from Beijing, maybe even from China altogether, during the games.

Student Visa of the PR China
Student Visa of the PR China

As German newspapers like Die ZEIT and Süddeutsche Zeitung both report, there will be not student visas issued for July and August, a time where universities typically hold summer courses. In this time no regular classes will be held and students who only stay for one semester but according to the articles students who are going to continue their studies in the winter term need to leave for Beijing for games time. There are estimates that about 10,000 students would be affected by this measure.

And even if students do not need to stay over the holidays to proceed with their studies in Beijing afterwards, I think a lot of students like I myself would like to lengthen in China to watch the Olympics or feel its atmosphere if ons is in Beijing studying this or the coming winter term.

While the statement by a spokesperson of Peking University was quite clear, it nonetheless is not confirmed by the authorities yet. Robert Heuser of Cologne University assumed that the students are seen as potential troublemakers and are thus unwanted in the proximity of the games, he argued in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung.


Olympic Games at Peking University

March 10, 2008

In August, the whole world will look at China, Olympia will be visible all over Beijing, but at some places probable more than others. Besides the Olympic park and the newly renovated tourist sites that will be filled with visitors, I think that universities will much be influenced by the games. Thousands of the volunteers are students, so the spirit of the games will be carried out to the universities.

There has been a fierce competition about becoming a volunteer, I know one student who was lucky enough and will be working at the Olympic village helping foreign journalists and VIPs to check in.

Beijing University - The new tabletennis gym
Students in front of the basketball court, the new table tennis court was constructed behind it.

Some competitions even are hold on university campuses, the table tennis competition for example will be held at Peking University. Therefore a new sports complex was set up last year, and I already started imagine how it would be to go to see the games after class… However, I think that the main problem would be to get tickets for the event. Since the ticket prices are fair for Chinese, there was a run for tickets and it seems that all events are sold out by now, so it is unlikely that students can attend the competition after class.

After all, there will be summer holidays in August, some students are planing to leave Beijing for their own good because they say that Beijing will definitely be over-crowded, others are being asked to leave for the games to have the dorms available for other people to sleep there. A friend of mine is graduating this year and is planning on attending a masters program at Peking University after the holidays. But since he won’t be enrolled during the summer months, he might be expelled from campus: “We won’t have a place to live after graduation, maybe I even have to leave Beijing. Very tragic.”

Demolition of Sanjiaodi

November 13, 2007

I had earlier written about this central place on the Campus of Peking University, Sanjiaodi, a triangular space that has been focus for several student activities in the past. Actually I by myself have profited from the existence of such a place for announcements when I sold my bike before leaving Beijing. I had a Chinese friend write a note that I would sell my bike and just a couple hours later I had found someone interested in buying. But now, the stands for posters on the square have been demolished.

Students of Peking University have obviously a history of being not always in line with the state’s opinion and students have taken part in the set off for the Cultural Revolution from here and part of the protest at Tian’anmen Square were planned there in 1989, as well. This might be a reason to shut down this place, as indicated in a blog post by Beijing Newspeak, another one might be the declining number of users. Instead of posting news there, it is more likely that those kind of news, announcements or other kinds of “publications” are made applying present-day technology: The internal network of Beida students has tons of posts and news can be spread even faster there and gain a greater audience. It is no wonder that students prefer this way of sharing news as is is more convenient to them.

Update: Just two days ago I received an e-mail from a Chinese friend telling me that they protested the cancellation of English classes for their third and fourth year at university on their school’s BBS. Unfortunately without success, classes are to be held on the weekends only and there is a charge for the students.

University campus turns into tourist attraction

July 16, 2007

As Peking University is one of the nation’s top rated universities, during the summer months when there are now classes for Chinese students, the campus becomes a tourist attraction. Every day one can see tourist groups touring the campus, a big part of the visitors are prospect future students who hope to be able to study here in the future. For the Chinese students the exams have already ended some weeks ago, whereas I am supposed to learn for my exams at the moment. In the next two weeks I will have to take five exams and there is still a large amount of preparation needed to get beyond them smoothly…

The tourist are numerous, at  the building of our philosophy faculty even is a sign next to the door reading 游人止步 (“No tourists beyond this point”). This might be because the building, partly covered with wine, is one of the older ones remaining on campus – and one of the first of this kind when you enter the campus.

Students graduation at Beijing University
Students at Peking University in their graduation robes.

But our building is not of interest only for tourists. In the past weeks there were several students who just had graduated and were taking graduation photos in front of the building. They usually wore westernized graduation robes, but as I just found out, there is a heated debate at Peking University whether students should wear Chinese or Western style clothes during for their graduation. Although the media usually picks up the topic by showing Chinese graduation dresses, the Western clothes one knows from the US are outnumbering the Chinese ones by far.

努力學習 – Learning for exams

June 9, 2007

Tsinghua University Library
The library of Tsinghua University is filled with students – even on a Sunday morning in April when I was taking this picture.

I still have some time to prepare the exams that I have to take in my classes – other students are in the middle of preparing them and high school students are in the middle of the nationwide “高考”, the university entrance examination.
9,5 million high school students are taking part in the rally for the spots at the famous schools – the odds don’t look great to enter Beijing University or Tsinghua University – they are accepting only 6000 students.

The exams were schedules yesterday and and the day before yesterday and after the results are out, the students can use the points to apply at the universities. For Beijing University a score of 660 out of 750 points is necessary, unreachable for the majority of students. But it’s not that plain and easy: My language exchange partner told me that there are quotas for the provinces how many students they can be send to the top universities and in some areas you need to choose the universities before having taken the exam. This means if the exam is worse than expected, and one might not get into the university of one’s dreams, so one is taking some risk to apply for the top universities – my language exchange partner stated that he might not have taken the risk of putting “Beijing University” on his list, but at his province, there he knew his score before choosing the school.

The exams have different profiles for the different subjects one is going to choose at University. In general on can say that most of the questions will have a multiple choice system and don’t have a lot of “creative” taskes like the German exams at high school. When in Germany the content of something written for the English exam counted for 50 percent, it might be much less in China. Also students don’t have to write a lot in their English exams: A few hunderst words will be sufficient.

The candidates at the exams are not very lucky with the weather – it’s been burning the past days, the temperatures might jump over the 40 degree Celsius (about 100 Fahrenheit) barrier at some point soon. The ACs are running, but still the heat is making me a little “懒” (lan, lazy) and the length of my attention span is declining the hotter is gets.

As the students at Beijing University are studying hard to prepare their exams, I get the feeling that there is not much time left for me in Beijing. I will stay in China until September and my exams are in late July, the exams for Chinese students are coming up soon and their Semester will end at the end of June, earlier than ours. Some students will stay in Beijing, take some summer courses, others are looking for internships that need a serious preparation for the interviews that the companies are holing while others might be abroad for the holidays.

On the web I recently found an interesting (but quite long) article that touches various points of the Chinese education system. If you don’t want to read it all, I thing the first two sections are the ones that describe the current situation quite well.

Sanjiaodi, one of the most vivid places on campus

June 4, 2007

At Beijing University there are a lot of student clubs. As you will see at other universities and other countries it will always be the same – some with be active clubs while others mainly only exist on the paper. Furthermore within the clubs there are active and less active members. There are a lot of those clubs and every now and then they present themselves at Beijing University’s “Sanjiaodi” (Triangle-Area), this is an area where one can seldom ride the bicycle during lunch break as it is crowded at that time.
While there are not only clubs presenting them their activities or showing their skills, there are all kinds of announcements pinned on the boards at Sanjiadi – university related information on all kind of events, like upcoming lectures, movies, theater and musical performances that are hosted at Beijing University’s “Baizhounianjinian-Jiangtang” (a hall to remember the 100th birthday of Beida that was celebrated in 1998) and some notes of people looking for a roommate and job offers.

In my personal opinion, the “traffic situation” at Sanjiaodi has become better in the past month – meaning it is less crowded during the lunch break. The reason might be plain and simple: I might have just become used to the situation and will now keep riding my bike in a slalom around the people. Another explanation would be that the students’ exams are coming closer, some might not have the time to both prepare the exams and have time for their club’s activities. And clubs might be focusing to promote themselves at the beginning of the semesters to gain new members.

Student activities at Sanjiaodi
“German week” at Sanjiaodi

The student association I was coming in contact with most, is the “European Society of Peking University”. They not only helped to find the language exchange partner, but one of my language exchangee is a rather active member, so in early April I found myself at Sanjiaodi to ask questions about Germany…
The student group had organized a German week, were showing movies, had a speaker from the German embassy and had prepared a questionnaire to ask passer-bys at Sanjiaodi about their knowledge of Germany. The questions were rather special and I would not been able to answer all of them if I were asked, but instead I was the one who was supposed to ask the candidates who could win brochures, stickers of small books about Europe and Germany. But after I had asked my three questions I’d often become the one to answer questions about Germany. One man wanted to know what was happening if someone in Germany does not obey construction regulations and is negatively influencing the quality of the nearby residents – a very special case, I guess this happens in China much more often than in Germany, though.
I was working together with two very nice students, and as there were not that many people coming by during our morning shift, we just talked using German, Spanish, English and Chinese as one of the two is studying German and the other Spanish. However, I have to admit that my Spanish isn’t really good anymore since I haven’t used it in ages.

Group picture at Yunmengshan
Group picture at Yunmengshan

There were other activities of the club that I failed for several reasons, but last weekend the club organized a trip I took part of to Yunmengshan (云蒙山), about a three-hour-bus-drive northeast of Beijing.
On Saturday evening a bus full of German and Chinese students went into the mountain area were we had a campfire, karaoke and were playing games, on Sunday we did a six-hour mountain hike through the national park (I don’t know wether it actually is a national park but there was a sign about 云蒙山国家森林公园). We missed a great view as it was really foggy, it was like walking in a cloud – must be the name, since yun (云) stands for clouds. But on the other side it was probably good that we did not have too hot temperatures on our hike: A student who participated last year said that it was terribly hot last time. And the fog, moving fast because of the wind was turning the cliffs into a mysterious scene.

The Chinese stock market is following the weather – It’s getting hotter and hotter

May 27, 2007

During the past weeks I have read several articles about the rising Chinese stock market. Besides that I attended an informative lecture at Beijing University about “non-performing loans and bubbles in the China economy” by Jack Rodman. The lecture was part of a series about finance in China by professor Michael Pettis. Unfortunately I did not know about this most interesting series before, next week will be it’s last session, I need to check if there are other lectures offered at Beida. But a student already told me that there are other English lectures coming up, so I’ll keep an eye on the schedule there.

When the Chinese economy started to pick up speed, the stock market in Shanghai that was opened in 1990 had a four year period where shareholders would not be happy about their assets: Although China almost had a double-digit GDP growth each year from 2001 to 2005, the stock market did not bring the investors big profit. But then the market slowly picked up speed and since then has more than tripled. I created some graphs to show this development.

Until the end of 2005 the stock market was rather going down than up but then started to pick up speed.

This success and the easiness of this way to make money had brought new investors to buy stocks, some of them with very little money and with very high risk because they are bringing all their savings to the stock market. Along with the rising temperatures in Beijing (yesterday we had well over 30°C) one can watch the high amount of money flowing into the market: $9.1 billion have been transfered from staving accounts to stocks in the first quarter of 2007.
And although the China Securities Regulatory Commission urges “stock exchanges, securities dealers and related authorities to educate investors about the risks of stock market investment”, not all people are aware of the risk with investing in stocks. Some are taking it as a replacement for gambling that is outlawed in China, but others are blindly following the trend of making money without the need to do any labor. I’ve found a very interesting story about this development – sorry, it’s only in German.
Students at Beijing University I have talked with are a little more careful and although they don’t have any stock investments at the moment, they are “planing to do so in the future”.

It seems everybody in China nowadays has dreams about a good future and become wealthy. In Chinese there can be easily made a word game out of this, as “qian” can mean “future” (前) as well as “money”(钱). With this word game, some people even released a new version of the Chinese national anthem, when the main goal of the country is not to “march forward”, but the “make money”.

So far there have been only small backdrops that could not stop the rise.

Unfortunately the experiences form the past and other countries have shown that the peak is reached when everybody is going to the stock market. The German newspaper “Die ZEIT” recently called it the game of finding “the dumbest fool”, the one who is investing at last. The game of buying stocks and selling at a higher prize does work as long as there is someone who is willing to pay a higher prize. China traditionally has a high savings ratio, so there potentially is a lot of money that could still flow into to market.

The question is: When will is the weather and the stock market become cooler? And how? Will it become cooler like after a thunderstorm with a brusting bubble or is there a slow decline in temperature?
Our Chinese teacher told us that the Chinese government would be able to control the market – at least to some extend: As the state is still the (main) owner of many companies, it can be selling or buying stocks to keep the prizes stable. But so far the state has been a profiteer of the bullish market since its shares have increased their value. Although members of the government are denying the existence of a bubble, it is questionable if the state really is interested in buying stocks at a high prize after the peak has been reached? Wouldn’t it be in the interest of the state to sell its shares at a high prize and use the money useful? And if the country would pursue such a strategy, why was it possible that the markets have gained more than 50 percent this year?