Little things you learn in Beijing

  • The Beijing subway is brilliant but a bit full on during rush hour. I guess you can’t really complain for 20p a ride.
  • Internet use is restricted but VPNs are usually ok and a lot of people use them — it makes me wonder how many UK twitter (or BBC iPlayer) users are actually in China.
  • The argument the Chinese Government uses for blocking some sites isn’t about censorship (they’re actually quite open about that) but that they don’t want American companies to hold lots of personal data about Chinese citizens. Google Docs is blocked for that reason and it’s the same with Facebook.
  • People don’t really buy hot coffees in the summer — it’s all about the iced coffee.
  • The Communist Party has over 50 million members. They vote on stuff fairly often.
  • There’s pretty much a Chinese internet that we don’t see. The vast majority of Chinese internet users access it through their phones rather than a web browser.
  • The electric bikes are brilliant — particularly the tricycles with an motor strapped underneath them. Why don’t we have them in the UK?
  • The tech industry in China has a special place and is given a lot of freedoms and support by the Government. A lot more than the tech industry gets from US or UK governments.
  • Dumplings for lunch — tasty, filling, 50p — what’s not to like?
  • The idea (you often hear in Silicon Valley) that Chinese coders don’t have any creativity is really not true. While it’s arguably behind at the moment the startup ecosystem in China is developing much faster than the US or Europe.
  • Chinese beer is respectable. Chinese wine less so.
  • I’ve started thinking the software patent debacle in the US is more likely to derail the tech industry there than the intellectual property regime in China is here.
  • The plug sockets (see above) are genius and should be compulsory in all hotels and event venues everywhere. They take plugs from pretty much any country you like.

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