Event Details

WHAT: RASBJ online event featuring author Thomas Bird about his first book, "Harmony Express", with moderator Dr. Jeremiah Jenne

WHEN: Wednesday March 20, 7pm-8pm (Beijing time) on Zoom

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: Author Thomas Bird introduces his book about exploring China by train, "Harmony Express", in conversation with Dr. Jeremiah Jenne. Weaving Chinese history into his travelogue, the author couples the story of China's long journey to modernity with the development of the national railway network. He investigates the impact of railway imperialism a century ago when China's railways lagged sorely behind the rest of the world and considers Beijing's obsession with catching up as represented by its fleet of sleek, fast Harmony-branded trains.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: A numbe of years ago, Bird's rock band had just split up, he'd left his job as the Shenzhen editor of a lifestyle magazine and his girlfriend had disappeared from his life. He was poised to make a muse of China Railways. A year morphed into several as Bird whizzed from high-tech Shenzhen to colonial Xiamen at speed; "flew" into Shanghai aboard a Maglev; chugged through rural Sichuan Province aboard an old steam locomotive. Putting the people he meets front and center, Bird delivers a portrait of an era undergoing breakneck change.

HOW MUCH: This online event is free for members of RASBJ; RMB 50 for members of partner RAS branches; RMB 100 for non-members.

Interested in becoming an RASBJ member? Please sign up at https://rasbj.org/membership​​​

You may find payment via Alipay easier than via Wechat, You can also pay by credit card. We hope to "see" you there!

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: No later than noon on 18th March, please click "Register" or "I will Attend" and follow the instructions. After successful registration and payment, you will receive a confirmation email. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder.

Members of partner RAS Branches: Please register 72 hours in advance to allow time for membership verification. You'll receive three emails from us: the first confirming receipt of your registration request, the second requesting payment, and the third confirming receipt of your payment. Please check your spam folder to ensure you see all RASBJ emails.

REFUND POLICY: If the event is cancelled, registrants will be refunded


  • Thomas Bird (Speaker)

    Thomas Bird


    Thomas Bird has contributed to several guidebooks including The Rough Guide to Thailand. His work has been published in BBC Travel, CNN Travel, Geographical Magazine, Lonely Planet Online, DestinAsian Magazine, the New Statesmen, The Guardian, as well as several other sympathetic publications. He's a regular contributing writer to the South China Morning Post and the author of Harmony Express

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  • Jeremiah Jenne (Moderator)

    Jeremiah Jenne


    Dr. Jeremiah Jenne has been based in Beijing for more than twenty years. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, and taught Late Imperial and Modern Chinese History for over 15 years while also leading educational and research trips to every part of China. His essays and articles have appeared in "The Economist", "South China Morning Post", and numerous other publications. Jeremiah is the proprietor of Beijing by Foot, a division of The Hutong, which organizes historic walking tours of Beijing's most famous sites and less-traveled byways and leads workshops on history, culture, and cultural adaptation for students, embassies, companies, and community groups. Along with David Moser, Jeremiah is also the co-host of the podcast "Barbarians at the Gate."

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