In 2009, the Royal Society of Chemistry signed a cooperation agreement with the State Administration for Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), a division of the Chinese Government. As part of a wider governmental initiative to enhance the global impact of Chinese science and China’s higher education institutions, the RSC and SAFEA provide funding for a Visiting Researchers Programme. This encourages academics from the UK to visit Chinese universities to share best practice, advise Chinese researchers on presenting their research to an international audience and to stimulate collaboration between UK and Chinese institutions.
This blog provides a space for participants to share their experiences and for the RSC to highlight the opportunities that stem from the SAFEA programme.

*The map is reproduced from the United Nations Statistics Division

Richard Layfield- China Diary (26 October 2013- 3 November 2013)

Travel diary of Dr Richard Layfield- Reader in Inorganic Chemistry, University of Manchester 

Richard took part in the 2013 SAFEA-RSC Visiting Researchers Programme where he met several researchers from Peking University, Qinghua University and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. Apart from exchanging excellent scientific discussions, you can read about his experience of chinese liquor (bai jiu) and chinese food.
Day 1 – Saturday 26 October, 2013
An early arrival at Beijing Airport, where I was met by Professor Xuefeng Fu (Peking University) and Ms. Shan-Shan Liu, a PhD student in the group of Professor Song Gao. Following a taxi ride across the city to the Zhongguan Xinyuan Hotel, lunch was taken in the hotel restaurant and then I was given a tour of the grounds of Peking University. After the walk, we returned to the hotel, where I began the process of recovering from jetlag, with limited success. Hotel was excellent.
Day 2 – Sunday 27 October, 2013
Around lunchtime, I was met by Mr. Yinshan Meng (PhD student) at the hotel. We took the subway to a traditional Hutong area, where I was shown around the shops. After a couple of hours walking, we visited a restaurant (name?!) where we had a meal using a traditional cooking pot, in which coal is placed and used to boil water. The boiling water is used to cook the meat and the vegetables. Altogether, this was very good food.
Day 3 – Monday 28 October, 2013
An early start to meet colleagues at Peking University. Interesting discussions with various Professors were held, in which they presented their recent research achievements. Following yet another excellent lunch, some more meetings were held with colleagues, and then a very useful ‘rest’ period was built into the timetable.  At 3pm, I gave my research lecture to an audience that included Professors and PhD students. After the lecture, a very stimulating discussion was held. Following the lecture, a dinner was held at an excellent local restaurant with Professors Gao, Fu and Wang. Most of the food was very nice, with the possible exception of the duck feet, which were not suited to my delicate western palate. The Chinese white ‘liquor’ was inflicted on me at several points.
Day 4 – Tuesday 29 October, 2013
In the morning, I was escorted to the nearby Qinghua University, where I met Professor Huizhong Kou. I gave a lecture at 10am, and then went to lunch with colleagues. After lunch, we went to admire the trees in the grounds of the university, which were in the process of changing the colour of their leaves from red to yellow, or maybe yellow to red. Afterwards, I returned to the hotel to continue the struggle against jetlag.
Day 5 – Wednesday 30 October, 2013
This was a quiet day where I worked in the hotel for a few hours in the morning, followed by a subway ride to Tiananmen Square and a spot of tourism.
Day 6 – Thursday 31 October, 2013
Transfer flight to Shanghai, where I was met by a PhD student in the group of Professor Liang Deng. The student insisted that I call him Stone, and I was happy to oblige him even though he didn’t look like much of a tough guy. A late arrival limited us to dinner in the hotel, which was very good, although I’ll never understand why they insisted on serving two people enough food to last them a week. Hotel was excellent, although the breakfast was a bit weird.
Day 7 – Friday 01 November, 2013
An early start to meet Liang Deng at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. The SIOC is a very impressive place to research chemistry. Despite the name, they don’t just do organic chemistry, and the State Key Laboratory for Organometallic Chemistry includes a broad range of topics, including lanthanide organometallics. After a tour of the facilities and giving my lecture in the morning, there was a further tour of the institute and some meetings with colleagues. Dinner in the evening was, once again, excellent.
Day 7 – Saturday 02 November, 2013
Professor Deng, Stone, and I went to the Shanghai downtown area. We looked around the shops, street markets and the very impressive Bund area. These activities took up the entire day, which we finished with yet another enjoyable dinner, particularly the pork belly. I’m not sure about the white liquor though: one glass, fine; two, ok; three, bad idea.
Day 8 – Saturday 03 November, 2013
Escorted to the airport by Professor Deng, who was a truly excellent host. Home to Manchester.
Posted by Kathleen Too on May 13, 2014 10:16 AM Europe/London

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