It is 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.

We visited 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.

We went 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.

I have 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 on China.

China 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 well 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.

We have 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.