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18 November

A Letter From Beijing

18 Nov, 2006

Trust it finds you well!

So, I’ve worked with this bank for over two weeks.  I am in the department called “asset and liability management & performance appraisal”.  Basically it’s the section that monitors the banking business: how much savings, how much loans, so on and so force.  The upcoming two months will be very hectic: December is the month to do planning and making targets for every branch and section, whereas January is the month to appraise the performance of last year.  I am not sure what is the counterpart of such a department in a western bank.

I am currently working on statistics of card service.  This bank started to issue debit cards only two years ago and the business target used to be the number of cards issued.  Now new indicators need to be set as well as the numeric targets for branches, and I am the person to do such research and make proposal.  So, these days I became very familiar with commission rates of all ATM/ebank transactions:-)

However, during the last two days I was, as an IT expert, on a special board to investigate the IT Dept, which had four accidents in one and half month that caused ATM service down for hours or loss of source code.  Sound horrific?  I don’t know whether I should use 🙂 or :-(.

After two whole days interview with 14 managers and staff (it’s a real world Rashomon: everyone attempts to protect himself and blame others), what unfolds in front of me is a department that’s totally “no law no rule”. And worse even, as I am the person to draft the investigation report, I was instructed that: clearly state how serious the problem is with the management and institution, but don’t place the same level of serious responsibility to individuals, as we still need them to maintain the IT infrastructure and systems, if not develop more, which is in urgent need.  After all, if there is no law no rule specifying how things should be done, whom can we blame?

Well, I guess you are frowning about how come I am working in such a paradise.  Hmmm……that’s the situation.  Have I told you its bad loan rate is over 10%? 🙂

I just spent the whole day writing the report.  Now gonna get something to eat and review it at night, then send it to the board leader, after whose approval it will be submitted to the directors of the bank on Monday.  Tomorrow I will have to finish the delayed work of my own department, that is assuming I don’t need to work on this report any more.  I was away for two days due to the investigation but I am supposed to finish my work, none the less.

And more material for your joyful Saturday night.  Two weeks after I started work, I haven’t signed any employment contract. I don’t know my salary.  I don’t know my medical insurance.  I don’t know my annual leave……  I don’t know nothing.  Seems their logic is: don’t ask, just get what you are paid.  Well, I am not going to negotiate the remuneration package.  Not at all.  I just wanna know. But nobody informs me.

Don’t take me wrong.  I am not complaining these to you.  You know me well that I take things easy.  What I wrote above is just to tell you some interesting things about my new job.  It’s still too early for me to complain, and these are all well in my expectation.

OK.  Enough on the job.  Life wise it’s quite fine, except the sad fact that no car awaits me over the zebra-line.  I used to frown on their horning on me but now I take it as a safety warning out of good will.

And using google becomes somewhat a headache: each time after I unconsciously attempted to google something regarded as “improper”, I would totally lose the connection to google, meaning I cannot google anything, for from a couple of hours to infinite days.  I am a very pro-Beijing person.  I really don’t know what were the “improper” things that I ever googled.  For the first time since my return, I felt a bit heartbroken.

Well, let me give some brighter color to the palatte: I attached a picture of the gingko avenue outside the Diaoyutai Hotel.  Just next to the noise and heavy traffic that symbolize Beijing, it provides a haven.


Best regards,

Wang Yi

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