Nighttime in… Tianjin; plus the odd tale of Chinese AV – given away for free!

Straight after our Top-100 tourism in Lebanon, I suddenly found myself in… China! Specifically, on the Heihe River (the upper part of the Rui Shui River) in the city of Tianjin!

It was my second time in the city, having been here precisely seven years ago. I remember that trip very well – mostly: that I was bowled over by its spaciousness, cleanliness and neatness. Since then, I can report that the city has grown in population – clearly visible by the increased numbers of vehicles on the roads and folks on the sidewalks along the riverbank – on a Sunday evening. Come the following evening – the city was a lot less crowded, with some places practically deserted.

This time we were having a boat trip along the river through the city at night, and it turned out to be wonderful! The Chinese sure do know how to light up their cities at night:

Kinda Las Vegas, only with more subdued lighting – perfect for pics (practically all the ones I took turned out real nice – a rarity:).

Since it was Monday, a work day, as I mentioned – it was fairly quiet. Great!

Multicolored snakes and Chinese lanterns float around in the sky.

I tried to take a photo of them – but there was too little light:

Onward we sail. Bridges, embankments, skyscrapers – everything bright and spruced up.

Oh those ingenious Chinese! Right across the river – Ferris Wheel!

We tried to get up onto the bridge with the Ferris wheel, but – ‘closed’! EH?! But I’ve just been singing your praises to all my dear readers!! The cheek ).

…Whatever. So we carry on down the river – squeezing under the Ferris-bridge:

Many a bridge, many a style of bridge…

…Some looking decidedly Parisian.

The buildings… hmm – not sure what accent they have. European?

Not that we flew all the way from Lebanon to China for a night boat-trip. As ever, there was work to be done: useful and necessary activities and events. One of the latter – China Cybersecurity Week. Btw: notice how ‘cybersecurity’ is written now: it used to be ‘cyber security’, sometimes – cyber-security; now – a term that’s complete all on its lonesome.

China Cybersecurity Week is a very big Chinese conference. Grand, stately, huge, fancy. I gave two presentations up on stage (actually – two different stages) – with only an hour between them (ouch!), plus the usual slew of interviews, and also a few interesting meetings. All very positive; I’m confidant we’ve a bright future over in China.

Here’s our stand at the mini-exhibition:

Photo call! But of course – always plenty of photo calls in China!

We were surrounded by lots of Chinese companies. But I have to say: without knowing the Chinese language it’s real difficult working out what they do – even if they have pictures up!

Baidu! By far not all countries have their own search engine. China of course has its ).

Delegations pass by:

…Another delegation… Oh yes – and that stand there: 360, developed by Qihoo… that’s a separate – antivirus – story that needs telling…

Long, long ago – well, at the beginning of this century at least – there were several antivirus developers in China. Their tech wasn’t the most advanced in the world, but not bad either. There was Rising, Kingsoft, and a few other home-grown companies, which each took a slice of the Chinese AV market as did foreign competitors. Then – something happened to end smash the status-quo: in a drive to attract customers, a local internet company called Qihoo, released an antivirus – 360 – that cost absolutely nothing. And that was that. Practically the whole country was using Qihoo within a very short time! In doing so – most of the competition was killed off.

Now for some details…

1. So – this game-changer AV: it was super-duper, right? Wrong. What they’d done was simply buy a license to use the AV engine of the Romanian company Bitdefender – which itself based its products on second-hand databases (working as per the principle of we detect everything that others detect). Qihoo attached thereto its own working shell – workable, but pretty basic, hardly hi-tech; basically – a 1980s Lada or Skoda. Still, it kinda worked, and the Chinese weren’t too picky, so it was a winner all round…

…And the losers were the rest of the market. For the Chinese (among others) aren’t all that bothered about quality – especially quality that you have to pay for. If there’s a product that’s free and does the basics – that’ll do. Btw – if you’re not Chinese or living in China, you’ll probably never have heard of Qihoo or its 360. Yep – that’s because outside its domestic market it has very little business. Not that it hasn’t tried getting some: it once attempted entering the Russian market; it didn’t go too well for them ).

2. Back to the rest of the market – it was devastated. Many companies went bust; the ones that survived were left with crumbs, having to make do with niche segments of the market. Indeed, today – still – the Chinese AV companies that did survive betray a somewhat humble existence ->

3. Eventually – at last! – the Chinese started to understand that totally free AV is actually… not totally great! In China the other side of the barricades is very advanced – with hackers galore, but ‘this’ side – might as well have not been there. Why? Because it’s nowhere to grow from: the soil it resides in is infertile, and watered very rarely. A bit like the Gobi Desert – where nothing grows ).

Ok, that’s the end of that curious tale. And that’s all from my recent China trip. But I’ll be back very soon, to be sure…

To finish – a rather long PS…

…About the railroads in China. For they are simply amazing…

A long time ago someone high up in the ruling party set a goal for the People’s Republic: to cover the whole of the populated areas of the country with railroads that take high-speed trains so that getting to any city from any other in the country was quick, easy and comfortable. What can I say? Goal – scored!

Now look at this map. The blue lines: these are the railroads along which ‘planes’ ‘fly low’ at speeds of up to 350km/h (there’s also the Shanghai Maglev Train that goes over 400km/h!)! Today, Chinese rail is second in the world in terms of length: impressive.

Even more impressive are Chinese train stations – and not just the main ones: all of them appear to be built future-proofed, i.e., massive. Even the one in Tianjin. Wait – Oh my Guangzhou! – turns out Tianjin is the fifth-most-populated city in mainland China. And there was me thinking it was a large town ). No matter – it still has a splendidly grandiose and modern train station:

First class. Alas, I slept the full 40 minutes it took us to get to Beijing!

The view form my hotel room in Beijing – actually the first ever hotel I stayed in in the capital yonks ago!

Next up: Sochi for an industrial event, but more on that later.

PPS: I was singing the praises of Chinese rail three years ago too!

The rest of the photos from Tianjin are here.

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