17 April, 2013

China 1997 - 2013

I presented at Stockholm University yesterday to grad students who had a day about Chindia and I was to give my perspective on changes in China from my 15 years living and working in China. I added the presentation to slideshare. Key takeaways? China is not always what it seems like and don’t overestimate the power of Guanxi – definitely a double-edge sword and for foreigners, more so. Of course, the whopping growth and changes in behavior, consumption and attitudes.

A Short Tale of the outdated mammoth traveler

Time to harass myself.. 
I have to admit it, I am probably stuck in pre-millennium ways of traveling as been awfully spoiled by SAS the last couple of years. So when I went to London a few days ago, I chose to fly Norwegian of several reasons – the primary reason was timetable and low-cost tickets as I booked very late and SAS was full (or quite expensive).
Surprisingly, Norwegian doesn’t offer online check-in, so I had to leave home 20-25 min earlier than planned to check-in at the airport (same procedure in London) and after that, the horror of queueing for security check. At SAS, always can use the priority lane for both check-in and security. This is how lit locked the other day (oh, and the queue goes behind the pillar on the left). It only took some 10+ minutes but still…
2013-04-15 07.40.00
However, once in the plan, free wifi is great – just not that reliable but great when it works. Planes were new and seats ok but at SAS, food/drinks are for free (for me) – not the same at Norwegian.. And I miss that personal touch from the SAS purser. Will not happen at Norwegian, probably no matter how much I travel with them.
Then landing at Gatwick. Maybe I shouldn’t complain, Heathrow isn’t that great after all but slightly more accessible. But Gatwick feels like a dump and empty and in construction and .. somewhat sad. Security check though was smooth and fast as it was no people.
I guess the time long ago already passed for the golden age of business traveling. Now costs and time schedules matter vs business class and convenience. Just for me (and SAS) to accept the harsh reality.
SAS forgive me for going Norwegian. It may happen again, it wasn’t that bad (and at 40-50% lower cost)

08 April, 2013

War on the Korean Peninsula? My uneducated layman's view

First a disclaimer: I have no education in crisis and war analysis; nor am I expert in security and military strategies. These are my own thoughts and speculations. And I hope I will be proven wrong
I think we will see military actions on the Korean peninsula as the United States want to remove the threat that North Korean possess. The actual ability for Kim Jong-Un to push the button for a nuclear attack will make US to force a smaller or larger military incident in Korea.
I also believe that US may do this as a preemptive attack. There are too many hormone filled military advisors and leaders that just want to see North Korean gone. But there are also another angle to this and one that has been overseen in many of the discussions. A limited war on the peninsula will seriously weaken China and Korea. From a eco-political perspective, US has all to gain that North Korea heads to war with South Korea and has to be attacked from both South Korea, US and .. China. As China can’t really take the risk of a full-blown nuclear war an hours flight from Beijing, they would have to be involved and supportive of military counter-actions.
This would weaken China politically internationally but also affect their economic position. For Apple and other american brands, Samsung and other Korean products will suffer tremendously by a war outbreak.
If the war can be contained to the Korean peninsula with minor outbreaks to Russia, China and Japan, US will stand strong as the clear winner and really gain power in Asia. Therefore, I think that US may try to provoke an attack from North Korea or even may pre-emptive strike first.
But, I hope all military strategists remember the result of both Vietnam war and Iraq.