Yesterday morning I made a trip to the wonderful green campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the New Territories in Shatin. Was nice to be on the train to Luohu again after so many years. It changed. Still of course it is the terrestrial axis for a lot of exchange between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, which in many ways are becoming more and more sister cities. The train carries a large spectrum of people: transit travelers, business people, trades people, students. In my perception there were this time less smugglers, and less "foreign friends" yelling at their mainland factory managers on the phone. For those who want to know more, a nice local literary account of this train is The Train to Lo Wu by Jess Row.
I dropped off the train at the University station, briefly took the chance to congratulate Kalok Chan, the recently appointed Dean of the Business School, on his new position. Then I had an excellent lunch and conversation with Michael Ferguson and Marjorie Chang, whom I both have not seen for ages. Definitely I wanted to spend more time on the campus, but returned to HKU in the afternoon to attend the public lecture of Roderick MacFarquhar, who is currently visiting from Harvard University as a Distinguished Chair Professor. He spoke on China in Transition - The Impact of Xi Jingping. His book Mao's Last Revolution, co-authored with Michael Schoenhals, has been on my reading list for long. Now that I heard the lecture, actually I want to add his publications on the Great Leap Forward. But my reading list is already very long and I have to catch up with the current titles first.
This talk was really excellent. Among many insights, my main takeaway was, that Xi Jingping might be better understood, when acknowledging that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a trauma for the Chinese Communist Party. If you look at what made the Soviets fail, then some of the tight actions of the new Chinese government are better understood. Also, it was interesting to see the current role of the PLA and the curbing of corruption seen in perspective. As a evening event I attended the Swire scholar's event on the Fall of the Berlin Wall in the Robert Black's College Guesthouse. It was a nice little gathering, and great to get to know most of my neighbors.