Posting will be light this week, due to the fact that I’m on-assignment in Hanghzou. And it’s not a bad place to be on-assignment, either. In fact, I’d like all of my reporting days to be preceded by a foggy walk alongside West Lake at dawn (editors: please take note). Only observation worth blogging about is the surprisingly large number of picture-taking tourists strolling by the lake before 7 AM.
Much respect for the early risers.
My new op-ed style essay, ‘Between a Rock and a Movie Theater‘ is now online at The National Interest. This one benefited immensely from a recent conversation that I had with a visiting journalist on the monetization of digital music.
[UPDATE 11/1: I am pleased to note that Asia Times Online re-published the National Interest piece on Wednesday under the much better title "China not following Hollywood's script." Why didn't I think of that?]
I’ve begun to think that someone at China Daily has a rather wry sense of humor. Case in point: a very brief photo essay that ran in Friday’s online edition. Located at the top of the China section (still on the home page) was a link that connected to this headline, photo, and caption:
I reduced the size of the photo for formatting purposes, so in case the text is too small, here it is again: “A resident exercises near a waterway as thick smog envelops Beijing October 26, 2007. Beijing is well on its way to fulfilling the environmental pledges made when it bid to host the Games. [Agencies]” Continue reading
I was stuck in a traffic jam, irritated — and then I saw this.
[Your Inadvertent All-Vietnam Double-Header Thursday at Shanghai Scrap]
For more than a decade, China has been the world’s leading importer of scrap metal and paper. And for more than a decade, the world’s scrap exporters have been mostly content with this lucrative state of affairs. Mostly, but not entirely. In recent years – and particularly over the last 18 months – many exporters have begun looking for new markets in hopes of diversifying a customer base that could – without any problem at all – be entirely Chinese.
But that’s easier said than done. The factors that make China such an ideal scrap export market – thriving resource-hungry manufacturers, low-cost labor, and low-cost container shipping rates – aren’t replicated easily. Especially the last one. But that hasn’t stopped the exporters from looking. And, as they look, I’ve looked with them. Last year I followed the alternative market search to India. And in June I followed it to Vietnam, the current favored alternative.
The new issue of Recycling International includes Part I of my long feature, “In Search of Vietnam’s Scrap Industry.” Scrap Magazine will publish the feature next month. An online version of the article will be available in a couple of months (on Scrap’s site). In the meantime, below, an excerpt.
The receptionist just glances at me as I walk past her and step into the slow, creaking elevator that takes me to the ninth floor of the Vietnam Steel Corporation (VSC) building in Hanoi. It’s a long, hot ride – the car isn’t air-conditioned, and the North Vietnamese heat feels like it is taking refuge inside of the elevator shaft. But when the doors open with a hard thunk, I breathe a little easier in the cool comfort of the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA). The lobby is empty, not even completed, but to the left is another receptionist, and she doesn’t appear surprised to see a foreign face. Continue reading