China Comment

Energy, Environment, and Economy

Isn’t That Odd? : Segways & Flamethrowers

Here’s an amusing article describing Chinese preparing for anti-terrorism drills.

Proximately from Engadget-but originally from Xinhua

Xinhua’s photo gallery is here: Although the Segway use can be justified (sort of- though they would seem to be pretty difficult to balance under stress conditions), a question arises looking at Xinhua’s photos, why is a flamethrower necessary for anti-terrorism drills at the Olympics?

 From Xinhua

In recent years, China installed fire extinguishers in Tiananmen to prevent people being lit on fire, after certain high-profile self-immolation protests in 2001.

One wonders how much danger the Beijing security details are expecting to handle– and with what degree of deadly force. I spoke with an Olympic volunteer and was told they were very concerned, as all people at all Olympics are, about incidents at entrances to Olympic venues.

Another especial reason for Beijing’s security worries; As recently as May 2008 an unexplained explosion that may have been intentional, went off on a Shanghai bus. Xinhua didn’t initially attribute the explosion to terror, but TIME Magazine and people on the ground have suspicions. At minimum, following the explosion, Shanghai instituted new regulations about carrying certain materials on buses and increased anti-terror patrols, which leads one to believe that there may be some reason for these heightened concerns.

With luck, nothing untoward will happen in China during the Olympics. For China’s sake, if something does happen, hopefully the police/military response is proportional and appropriate and that the coverage of said problem is transparent.

One thing that seems quite Odd is China has long believed very strongly that ignoring a problem, even after the problem has become well known, allows the country to save face. By covering-up details, forbidding publication of negative stories, and making everything seem happy, Chinese officials seek to win accolades (As I discuss in an earlier article).  Thus, they barred reporters from T$$$bet during the recent disturbances, then denied Chinese-instigated abuses (which may or may not have happened- since the West lacked independent reporting all it really has is a “monks said/Beijing says” dichotomy).

Simon Elegant at TIME Magazine thinks the media’s coverage style is changing and the Chinese government is more willing to admit to problems rather than covering-them up; but he also points out difficulties suffered by Chinese trying to discuss incidents online.

Oh China, such an odd and amusing, but often frustrating place.

7 July, 2008 Posted by | China Stability, Isn't That Odd? | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Isn’t That Odd? Segway Scooters

Isn’t That Odd is an occasional feature that aims to provide insight onto the Chinese psyche by pointing out particularly Chinese ways of thinking.

Segway Scooters, which in America cost about $5,000 on ebay and $4000-$6000 as of 2006 according to USA Today actually cost more in China- to the tune of $10,000!

Why do they cost so much? They have to be imported, and aren’t manufactured in China. In fact, they’re at a plant of a company based in New Hampshire.

******

Still… Couldn’t costs go down? Isn’t it surprising that they cost so very much more in China? According to the International Herald Tribune Article, Segway doesn’t want to move to China since it’s afraid its technology will be stolen by Chinese manufacturers. Well, they may be too late to prevent that. It appears copies have already begun emerging.

And as for the Segway name, which I believe is trademarked. It might have already been appropriated by a Chinese company making a remarkably similar product it calls “Segway scooter” (I suppose “Segway” is used in a similar manner as “Kleenex” is used when referring to tissues)

Compare this picture of a Segway on the Charmbright site Charmbright Segway Scooterto the ones on the real Segway site. Not being a Segway expert I can’t say whether the Chinese version is a copy, whether they are retailing the Segways on license (which I doubt since the Segway site has no mention of a “Charmbright.”). 

Charmbright’s listing says they are a “Manufacturer, Exporter, Agent” of Segway scooters from “Industrial Park, Jinhua,, Zhejiang, , China [CN]” which implies that they are creating them from scratch. Their post is quite recent; it’s from Apr 14, 2008.

So what is Charmbright? from their site: “CharmBright Limited is a professional manufacturer of sports products, marine products, fitness equipment and outdoor products. Our production line currently includes ATV, Dirt bikes Go karts, Scooters, Outboard motors, Inflatable boats, Trampolines, Pro-Jump, Waterbird, Skateboards, Fitness massager, etc.”   

Someone at Segway should probably check this out, for IP reasons.

7 June, 2008 Posted by | China Business, Isn't That Odd? | , , , , , , | 3 Comments