Dinner this evening was at 798 Space, an old factory evidently designed by East German architects – and a bit of an acoustic nightmare for those of us with bats’ ears. The vaulted ceiling reminded me of those giant concrete ‘ears’ that were erected on the British coast to detect the sound of incoming WWII bomber fleets. We took some pretty extraordinary paths on our way to developing those early acoustic locators or sound mirrors; it’s just a pity that architects didn’t reflect what happens when you design roof structures in the same way.
Fascinating conversations – against intense background noise – about the relationship between mainland China and Taiwan, about innovation and about nuclear power. And one conversation where I was told that the West should not underestimate China’s capacity to sustain – and accelerate – its current development and innovation trajectory. I don’t, though I doubt that we will see anything like a straight line upward trajectory, let alone an exponentially upwards one, whatever people here may think.
Got back to the hotel to find the South China Morning Post in my room, with the cover partly devoted to a horrifying image of rescue workers uncovering a group of dead primary school children, packed in shattered rubble like sardines in a can.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, the same paper notes the first death from a recent outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease as the authorities here struggle to contain the spread of the virus just three months before the Olympic Games. On the bus across to 798 Space this evening, we were reminded that the Chinese see the number ‘8’ as lucky, which is why the Games open on the eighth day of the eighth month of 2008. But, whether true or not I don’t know, we were told that the quake hit on the 88th day before the games open. Something doesn’t quite add up.