Harbin Business Exchange in Brief
A Weekly Email Update . . . January 20, 2006

In This Issue

Surprising Harbin! Synagogue Restored - Jews Honored

All Crystal Clear

Bye Bye Birdie


Surprising Harbin! Synagogue Restored - Jews Honored

Did you know . . . a full-spectrum exhibition on the life of Jewish refugees in Harbin, opened Sunday in an 85-year old synagogue in the city?

Its seven sections give a vivid picture of Jewish people's lives in Harbin, involving religion, politics, and culture. A black marble monument standing in front of the exhibition hall records the names and photos of Jews that once lived in the city and remained here forever.

More than 400 artifacts have come from Israel, the U.S., Germany, Australia, Britain and France. The Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences has established a Jewish Research Center and the City of Harbin has invested USD 2.5 million to restore many of the historical Jewish sites. The exhibit will ultimately be a permanent collection.

Harbin was once the largest Jewish settlement in the Far East. From the end of the 19th century to the mid 20th century, more than 20,000 Jews migrated to Harbin from Russia, east Europe and other countries due to racial persecution.

Ben Cannan, among the first Jews that settled in Harbin in the 21st century, is now a foreign affairs expert and professor at Heilongjiang University. "This exhibition is well designed and I thank you for renovating this synagogue and holding such a wonderful exhibition here," he said. "I am proud of Harbin City”.

Dear Friends:

Back from China and no jet lag. A good sign. The special attraction was the 23rd Annual International Ice and Snow Festival (The HBE WEBSITE has our trip report and photos of the fabulous creations). In addition to TJI-I associate, Xiong Neng Her, my 12 year-old son Alex, came along on this, (his third) trip to China.

I was honored to be invited to join Mayor Shi Zhong Xin as the principal speaker at the Festival Opening of an assembly of more than 150 foreign business and government officials. My speech recieved lead space and time in the media the next day.

During the trip, we advanced a number of projects, including our own Hollywood Food Palace restaurant. We spent quite a bit of time with the architect working on the concept and renderings.(See some of the new renderings -- HFP Power Point)

On a different track, while we may think of Chinese bargains for consumer goods, hotel accommodations and fancy meals, I wondered if Chinese medical and health services offer cost–saving opportunities, too. So, we did a modest experiment. My favored pair of glass frames were perfectly refitted to my current vision with custom lenses within 24 hours, at a cost of $12 USD.

Then a dental exam. Popped filling replaced, prescription strength antibiotic toothpaste and both Xiong and I had a professional cleaning, in total about $45 USD. Chinese colleagues felt we were given an “out of towner” rate, and promised a future dentist trip not as "costly".

I was due for routine blood tests, so -- off to a Harbin clinic. The professional procedure was done within 20 minutes including a complete print-out of my results – in Chinese. Although, they do use standard international medical abbreviations readily understandable to Western doctors. I could see the graphs and was assured everything was quite normal. It would have cost less than $10, but the clinic provided the service free of charge.

Completing the regimen, I spent a half-day at a health club. Time in the hot tub, sauna and steam room were followed by a full-body salt rub, a two- hour massage, facial, foot therapy (including callous removal), and even an ear cleaning. Depending on location, a package runs between $30-$75 USD.

Do the math. New glasses, dental work, blood tests and a complete spa package for around $125 USD. So, business aside, you coming on next trip?

We also enjoyed a day of skiing courtesy of the Harbin Foreign Affairs Bureau. This was Alex’s first time down the slopes, but he rose to intermediate capability in less than an hour. On the other hand, I am still trying to attain that status after . . .well . . . quite a few years.

Have a productive week! Larry P. Horist - HBE Chairman

  • All Crystal Clear
  • Millions of tourists once again have traveled to Harbin's annual winter festival despite the river pollution incident in November. Chinese travel agencies reported few cancellations. "Water quality has improved dramatically. Drinking water is as safe and even better than before," Du Yuxin, the city's Communist Party Secretary, told reporters on the eve of the festival's official opening. After intense investigation it was determined there are no pollutants. Among many remedies instituted, standard gravel filters at its water processing plants were replaced with activated carbon that will remove more toxins. For the massive Ice Palaces and Sculptures the ice blocks used in the festival were cut from sections of the Songhua River never affected by the pollutant.

    In tandem with the administrative and industrial efforts, Harbin leaders put on a public relations offensive to keep the spill that floated up from Jilin from affecting the winter festival, the most important tourist event of the year for the city. It all worked!

    In its continual clean up effort, China will invest more than $3 billion over the next five years to continuously upgrade water quality of the country's third longest river. The effort will cover the entire river valley spanning four provinces, home to more than 62 million people. Under the cleanup plan, new facilities will be constructed to remove 4.78 million tons of wastewater from the Songhua each day. In addition, water pollution control in the Songhua River's drainage area will be one of the key projects for the country. It is soliciting suggestions for a five-year plan concerning the control of the river's pollution from 2006 to 2010. The ultimate goal will be to significantly raise the standard of clean water in each river section. The urban sewage systems in each city with a population over 200,000 will also be improved, in the next five years. (Contact HBE -- us-- for details.)

  • Bye Bye Birdie
  • During his recent visit to the Harbin, Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said that said prevention and control of major animal epidemics like bird flu is a mission deserving long and hard work. Hui spoke highly of the achievements researchers have made in bird flu prevention and its vaccine, saying that as bird flu and human infection cases are still emerging, it is necessary to keep highly alert in the fight against the deadly epidemic. Science and technology is the key to this prevention and control. Hence, priority has been given to such scientific research. Many kinds of resources will be integrated to make breakthroughs in vaccine research, remedies and migratory bird monitoring, he added. Harbin's Veternary Academy of Science is a leader in the national research efforts.

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