interesting that when I first mapped out the page of 'Particular Places'
in 2002, it did not include China. This was natural since by then we
were really only just about to start our Chinese adventure which has
been, alongside the development of the internet, the most important
development in our lives of the last sixteen years.
China for the first time as tourists in 1996. It was only in 2002 that
we went again on a more academic visit to northern China. Since that
visit we have been every year (except for one), and twice in another
year. So we have made sixteen visits to China, usually for four to six
weeks at a time.
round various parts of China on these expeditions accompanied by each
of my Chinese Ph.D. students in turn who acted as facilitators and translators.
With them we have been to almost every major Chinese city and every
province - except those of the North West (Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang
and Inner Mongolia). We have also not been to Tibet or Taiwan. Otherwise
we have travelled in the remotest parts and spent other long periods
in big cities.
been a visiting scholar at several universities, including Tsinghua
and Sichuan, and collaborated with a number of Chinese scholars in writing
and publishing. I have given dozens of lectures across China and all
my last Ph.D. students, from 2002-9, were either Chinese or working
has become an enormously exciting thought experiment, an excellent way
to help get Japan and the West into perspective. I have made a number
of attempts to explore its inner essence and long history. One of these
is in a comparative book on different civilisations or 'spheres' which
looks from a Chinese perspective outwards from China. This will be published
in 2018 and it titled China, Japan, Europe and the Anglo-sphere:
A comparative analysis.
as writing, lecturing and teaching in relation to China, I have since
retirement been increasingly involved in projects to create a cultural
bridge of understanding between China and the West. This is in the tradition
of the Chinese poet Xu Zhimo's efforts from the time in 1921-2 when
he was an associate of King's College, Cambridge. I was involved in
helping to place a memorial stone to him by the bridge at King's in
2008 and, since then, with Zilan Wang have been extending the remit
of the Cambridge Rivers Project (founded in 1983) so that it includes
exchanges, exhibitions, festivals, performances in the fields of opera,
ceramics, poetry, literature, painting, tea and Buddhism.
also set up a small book publishing press, Cam Rivers Publishing, to
work on books in Chinese and English, as well as animations and other
media, mainly as educational materials for young Chinese and others.
The serious work on this further project began in about 2014 and since
then Cambridge, and particularly King's College, has become a centre
for China-Western collaboration.