Seleziona una pagina

Bike Sharing in China | The Wrong Way

It is simple.

Take the smartphone, open the app and then scan the code or insert it manually and the lock combination appears. The bicycle it’s yours now.

Wait, the phone can’t scan the QR code and I can’t read the numbers, it’s all scratched away. Ok, let’s hope  there is another bike ahead. This best describe my experience with the OFO service since its introduction in Xi’an.

In a recent article I have written for the Asia Times, I stress difficulties and problems of the Chinese sharing economy. The issue had been luring in my head for some time till I bumped into a too-enthusiast-to-be-believed article appeared on Bloomberg right about the Chinese sharing economy, stating that the future of this sector is there.

I was just waiting for lines like these.

OFO Bicycle Broken in Xi'an

China is big, and companies know it. Bike sharing ventures like OFO are just betting on it, with really small fees and widespread reaching. However, OFO has a weak point that is rooted not in the Chinese market but in the human nature.

The human factor, as I have named it, is a variable to be calculated in a business, even if it is not scalable. OFO presents its bicycles with a traditional manual mechanical lock with combination that is really simple to hack. And there are many ways to do it.
Somebody just scratch the codes away of the label after memorising the lock combination, gaining a sparkling new yellow bicycle. This is what I call Big Hack.
Other people, once they have managed to find a suitable bike, unlock it and, after a while, just stop the counter on the app, renting the bicycle theoretically for life (until someone else snitch it away). This is what I call Soft Hack.

Both the practices are commonly accepted and widely used.

Other OFO Bicycle Broken at Xi'an
OFO Bike Plate Scratched

OFO’s competitors seem to be more aware of the human factor. In fact, almost all of them have provided their bicycles with GPS locking systems, much more efficient in tackling the human factor down.
There is no combination to enter. You scan the QR Code, confirm and some servers send to the bicycle a release function that open the lock. That’s it. You got the bike and you gotta pay for it. Only, the bicycle requires manual locking after use, but would you ever dare to leave it unlocked knowing that it’s super controlled?

The sharing economy might give many opportunities, either to whom makes use of it to save money and to whom makes use of it to make money. However, companies and entrepreneurs that want to venture in this sector should always be aware of the human factor.

Thought on Theatre I

Theatre has filled part of my life. It came unexpected, and came as a water torrent crashing and carrying me somewhere far, and it came with irony.

The first time ever I got in a theatre has been on April the 24th, 2012, and I did it facing the audience, on the stage as an (amatorial) “actor”. The play was Midnight at Havana written by Yu Rongjun and it did opened my mind, all the experience: from the very beginning to the last performance.

Since then, it has been a love story, yet a quite sad. One of those love story you know that will soon expire, vanish as suddenly as it appeared. Though powerful and passionate, the real story comes after, in the everlasting search for it, in a hope to find it again and to meet it like the first time, with the same magic.

It’s difficult. Chances are we lose the reason, the faith, life asks for its debts to be repaid, and we’re called to answer forgetting what really matter.

48 Morto che parla, Naples 2014

I miss making theatre, I miss living it and watching it happening and I am still looking for it, somewhere, sometime. What for, I keep wondering: is it because it create new illusions, new lifes? Probably, but I do feel there is something deeper, something rooted in our primitive nature and in our need to express a total different world, an idea (or a non idea).

It’s maybe the act of creating (even in a deconstructionist way of acting) that gives birth to all the energy in a theatre, in a rehearsal room or between a watcher and a watched.

I am creating possibilities, and through them something might or might not happen.

Ritual, also like performance, is a liminal event. The word liminal comes from the Greek limnos, or threshold. A liminal space is a state in between, or a transition between different states. A liminal space is not useful or productive in any concrete or materialistic fashion. It is a transitional space, neither practical nor constructive, in the real of day-to-day living. Like the space of a doorway between rooms, it lacks concrete definition because even though it conveys something from its previous stage, it has not yet become the new one

Anne Bogart

Midnight at Havana, Naples 2012

In China there is a long theatre tradition, and contemporary productions offer interesting examples, for instance those of Meng Jinghui, Tian Qinxin and Lin Zhaohua. However, more than the quality of their theatre, the point that hit me most is the incredibly high prices of these productions.

Would be hypocritical to say that theatre, and all the art exhibitions, should be free. However, price should not be a high obstacle for people willing to enjoy it.

China Unsustainable

China is never easy.

I’ve learned it on my skin, living everyday along and among them, and my total impression is not quite good. After relatively few months, my feelings still suggest me that the actual Chinese way of life is not sustainable.

Many words have been written down, spoken out about the unsustainability of China’s economy and its lack of democracy. However, in my opinion the economical and political factors come well below the socio-cultural one.
Tightly bounded to their job, the Chinese I have watched till now experience quite few moments far from it, and it sounds absurd in a society where the government wants to make the cultural industry a pillar of its economy.

True, I’m watching through a western lens, but if not that, what? Would I be able to ever watch using a neutral eye? Maybe, yet the feeling is strong to not be embraced or analysed.

Chinese are not to be blamed though. I would say their own attachment to the work seems deeply rooted in their own culture. Obviously, they work hard in order to get rich, rapidly possibly. And they study mainly for the same reason.

Fastness, quickness, tirelessness, unsustainable key words of contemporary China, that soon or after will cause Chinese to blow up their mind or to suddenly bump against the short nature of time.

China is also the land of slowness and of the not environment-friendly bureaucracy. If on one side there is a population working at unsustainable levels, on the other side there is a bureaucracy class among slowest on Earth. The rate of paper consumption for almost everything is about 3 to up to 5 papers, full of marks and signatures, most time useless.
I happen to find empty offices or or free desks sometime, but its months that I have realised the reason: just giving up waiting. Not that Chinese are not good at waiting, in fact, armed with their smartphone, they pass many hours weekly just waiting for something, but sometimes the challenge is simply too tough.

These are just some impression, but I would really like a more relaxed China. In their crazy rush towards economic development and towards richness, Chinese are losing what still remain of Chineseness, that’s something quite different than rice, ducks and flying dragons.

Welcome to China

The airplane landed on a misty road in the Xianyang airport. Despite the early hour, men where driving working machines all around. Cold, smog and a flavour of something burning not far away gained access to my nose saying me “Welcome to Northwest China”.
We landed in China on February the 14th, Saint Valentine, as if I were to meet with a shy girl whom I was in love with but I had never seen before. I met her at morning, when she was still sleeping and I saw her eyes slowly opening announcing her that from that day on I would have been besides her.
I saw the China not already China as newspapers describes, as academics talks about or just as we imagine. I saw the real sleepy face of China, fifty minutes between 8 am and 9 am in which the sharper watchers might get some sparkles of the three thousand years history of the East Asia giant as we read in many reporting stories. More probably it is only my soul making joke of me.

We took a taxi using a smartphone app, in a way that for a half embarrasses me but on the other half makes me appreciating the course we’re taking – we as global civilisation.
With a headache we tried to understand what the driving tried to tell us, in the most polite way, yet most of the drive went on in silence. We payed.
Left all the luggages in my partner’s room, we left to look for my booked apartment. We found it, but no one seemed to know anything about my reservation.
At last I found a small flat, and with a huge headache I felt China, and its all problems, saying me “Welcome”.

US out of the TPP means new chances for China

The TPP Members before Trump

With the withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed by Trump on Monday 24th the Pacific area has been set open to new trade horizons and new balances.

Originally, the TPP was a multilateral trade deal involving many nations laying in the Asia-Pacific area, together totalling the 40% of the global GDP. The deal excluded China. It has to be put in the Obama’s strategy “Pivot to Asia”, outlined mainly to counter the ever increasing influence of China in the region and to gain a share and a profit from those markets. Unsurprisingly, Trump has retired the US from the TPP, and observers consider it a flaw, a hazardous choice.

Who benefits most from just the first week of Trump-as-president is China, that seems to be ready to step up as a leader, especially in the region – probably the most attractive in economical terms, or maybe just as a powerful guide.

“If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world I would say it’s not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China” said Zhang Jun, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s international economics department, who made the comments during a briefing with foreign journalists to discuss President Xi Jinping’s visit to Switzerland last week.

In just a week, the world scenario has changed enormously, with President Xi Jinping preaching globalisation, market and climate change at the Davos’ World Economic Forum, and Trump smashing up all the efforts of the Obama administration in less than a week bringing up his “America First” idea.

Australia and New Zealand have shown their will to save the TPP by including China and other Asian countries in it, but they are also prepared to accept other paths. China has proposed a counter pact, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) in 2014 at the APEC summit and has championed the Southeast Asian-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) launched in 2012. Moreover, China is already involved in the “One Belt One Road” project that will see the participation of several countries with massive investments in infrastructure and will prove China not only as an important global player but also as a more reliable power.
A guess of the changing scenario has also been the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), when many formally US allies joined it.

Providing the right circumstances, China may increase its influence worldwide and take probably the position of the United States, at least in the Asia Pacific area, becoming even a better partner than the US. China has everything in its favour, first of all its history and its position, then its economy dimension.
As United States seem to be retiring from the region and, partially, globally with Trump’s “America First” idea, China is ready to step up as a major trade partner in the Asia Pacific area, bringing up new opportunities and possibilities to whom is able to catch them. With the uncertainty of the Trump administration, China might try to set itself as a global guide/leader which other countries should be willing to follow.

Una delle prime mosse di Trump è stata tirare fuori gli Stati Uniti dal Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), una mossa che ha aperto nuovi orizzonti e nuovi equilibri nell’area del Pacifico.

Il TPP era un trattato commerciale multilaterale che includeva molti paesi dell’area Pacifico Asiatica e che, in termini economici, totalizzavano insieme il 40% del PIL mondiale. Il patto escludeva la Cina ed era da collegare alla strategia dell’amministrazione Obama del “Pivot to Asia”, concepita per fronteggiare la maggior influenza della Cina nell’area e per avere accesso ai dinamici mercati di quei paesi.
La decisione di Trump arriva senza troppa sorpresa, essendo stato un punto portato avanti nella sua campagna elettorale, ma molti osservatori la considerano una mossa azzardata.

A beneficiare della prima settimana di presidenza Trump è senza dubbio la Cina, che sembra essere pronta ad assumere il ruolo di leader, specialmente nella regione — sicuramente la più interessante in termini economici — o quantomeno ad assumere il ruolo di potente guida globale.

“Se tutti dicono che la Cina riveste un ruolo di leader nel mondo io direi che invece non è la Cina che si è precipitata ai vertici, piuttosto chi già c’era le ha lasciato il posto” ha commentato Zhang Jun, direttore generale del dipartimento di economia internazionale del Ministero degli Esteri cinese durante una conversazione sul World Economic Forum di Davos.

In una sola settimana lo scenario globale è totalmente cambiato, con il presidente Xi Jinping che porta avanti discorsi inerenti alla globalizzazione, ai cambiamenti climatici e mercato al WEF di Davos e Trump, dall’altra parte, che spazza via gli sforzi delle politiche dell’amministrazione Obama con la sua idea di “America First”, l’America prima di tutto.

Australia e Nuova Zelanda hanno comunicato le loro intenzioni di salvare il TPP, includendo la Cina e altri paesi asiatici, anche se si sono dette pronte a intraprendere nuove vie.
In anni recenti, la Cina ha messo in campo delle contro proposte come il Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) presentato al summit dell’APEC del 2014 e il Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) lanciato nel 2012. Inoltre, la Cina è impegnata nel suo progetto della “One Belt, One Road”, altrimenti chiamata come la “Nuova Via della Seta”, che abbraccia uno svariato numero di paesi dall’Estremo Oriente fino ad arrivare alle rive del Mediterraneo e prevederà grandi investimenti infrastrutturali. E’ un progetto che non solo metterà alla prova la Cina quale principale attore globale ma anche come potenza affidabile.
Un indizio del cambiamento c’è stato già con la fondazione della AIIB, che ha visto la partecipazione di importanti alleati Statunitensi, compresa l’Italia.

Con le giuste circostanze, la Cina potrebbe aumentare la sua influenza globalmente e di assumere il ruolo degli Stati Uniti, quantomeno nell’area Pacifico Asiatica, diventando un partner commerciale anche migliore. La Cina ha tutto in suo favore, prima di tutto la sua storia e la sua posizione, così come la sua potenza economica.
Con gli Stati Uniti in ritirata dalla regione e, forse, globalmente, la Cina è pronta a diventare il maggior partner economico dell’area, andando a costituire importanti opportunità e occasioni per chi è pronto a coglierle.

Divi WordPress Theme