Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

The world’s most polluted places: Linfen, China [TIME]

From Time: Linfen 临汾 in the heart of China’s coal belt has been mentioned by the Blacksmith Institute as one of the dirtiest cities in the world. Popular Science magazine also identifies Linfen as one of the ten dirtiest cities worldwide. In addition, according to the World Bank, 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are Chinese due to high coal use and motorisation.

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The world’s most polluted places: Linfen, China
From lead in the soil to toxins in the water and radioactive fallout in the air, The Blacksmith Institute has created a list of the world’s worst ecological disaster areas
Source – Time, published 2011

Smog covers the city center of Linfen. Photo – REINHARD KRAUSE / REUTERS

Number of people potentially affected: 3,000,000
Type of pollutant: Coal and particulates
Source of pollution: Automobile and industrial emissions

This soot-blackened city in China’s inland Shanxi province makes Dickensian London look as pristine as a nature park. Shanxi is the heart of China’s coal belt, and the hills around Linfen are dotted with mines, legal and illegal, and the air is filled with burning coal. Don’t bother hanging your laundry — it’ll turn black before it dries. China’s State Environmental Protection Agency says that Linfen has the worst air in the country, which is saying something, considering that the World Bank has reported that 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are Chinese. One Linfen native summed up the city’s plight to a TIME reporter last year: “This place of ours is no good.”

For more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1661031_1661028_1661016,00.html #ixzz1X8DgeOoz

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Green China, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Modernisation, Pollution, Resources, Time Magazine

China’s New Parochialism [Time]

Fareed Zakaria makes some useful observations here about a China propaganda machine that only allows 20 foreign movies into its 6,200 cinemas each year. He argues that China has reached a point it may be starting to narrow its course first where there is an ‘internal struggle over whether it needs to borrow more ideas from the West or follow its own particular course.’ Second, that movies such as Transformers and the latest instalment of Harry Potter would have to wait in the wings (though I’m sure most Chinese will have no problems sourcing for these films off the web) as ‘no foreign movie would be allowed into China until the Chinese film Beginning of the Great Revival made 800 million yuan, or $124 million, which would be an all-time record for a Chinese movie.’ 

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China’s New Parochialism
Source – Time, published July 14, 2011

Illustration by Oliver Munday for TIME

On any particularly hot day this month, people around the world will do what they have done for decades: go to an air-conditioned movie theater and watch a summertime blockbuster. The latest, biggest movie is Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which has broken box-office records in the U.S. and in many of the 110 other countries in which it has been released. Except in the world’s fastest-growing economy and movie market — China. The Chinese people will not get to see Transformers, nor the eagerly awaited new Harry Potter movie, nor any other Hollywood production. At least not yet. Gao Jun, the deputy general manager of Beijing’s New Film Association, explained that no foreign movie would be allowed into China until the Chinese film Beginning of the Great Revival made 800 million yuan, or $124 million, which would be an all-time record for a Chinese movie.

Beginning of the Great Revival is a two-hour tale of the rise of China’s Communist Party — released on the occasion of its 90th anniversary — and its heroic leader, Mao Zedong, who is played by a young Chinese heartthrob. The movie features a cast of hundreds of major Chinese actors, including Chow Yun Fat, with impressive sets and design, all at record cost. It has been released in 6,000 theaters across the country. But it doesn’t seem to be winning hearts and minds. Despite many mass ticket giveaways, cinema houses are reported to be empty. A barrage of negative reviews on the Internet have been censored. On VeryCD, a pirated-film website, more than 90% of users described the film as “trash.”

On one level, this is just a crude propaganda effort by a Chinese regime seeking legitimacy. But there is another aspect to this story. China is going through an internal struggle over whether it needs to borrow more ideas from the West or follow its own particular course. The question of how to handle Western films is becoming part of a much larger debate. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Communist Party 90th Anniversary, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Influence, Media, Nationalism, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Time Magazine

Lee Kuan Yew Reflects: THE RISE OF CHINA [Time Magazine]

Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew reflects on the Rise of China in this piece by Time Magazine five years ago in 2005. As I’ve shared before in this blog, if there is one person outside of China that knows China, it has to be Lee Kuan Yew. China regularly sends its mayors and future leaders to Singapore to learn about governance, I have seen the campus – it is rather majestic. In many ways, I see modern China as Singapore 2.0 only about 280 times larger (in terms of population).

All the questions of identity Singaporean Chinese had to deal with growing up in a Capitalist + Confucianist + Colonialist environment, the Chinese in China are going through now. To catch a glimpse into his insights, here’s a teaser  when asked about how China decided to coin their ascension as a ‘peaceful rise’ –

My first reaction was to tell one of their think tanks, “It’s a contradiction in terms; any rise is something that is startling.” And they said, “What would you say?” I replied: “Peaceful renaissance, or evolution, or development.” A recovery of ancient glory, an updating of a once great civilization. But it’s already done. Now the Chinese have to construe it as best they can.

In a nutshell, China is preoccupied with one really simple thing – stability at all costs.

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Lee Kuan Yew Reflects – THE RISE OF CHINA
by Michael Elliott, Zoher Abdoolcarim and Simon Elegant
Source – Time Magazine, published Dec 12, 2005

TIME: The coming East Asia summit is an unprecedented gathering of Asia’s leaders. Do you see it as an epochal moment for the region?

LEE: It happened in an unplanned, almost accidental, way. Abdullah Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, offered to host an East Asia summit: ASEAN plus three — the three being China, Japan and South Korea. China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, then offered to host the second summit. That would move the center of gravity away from Southeast to Northeast Asia and make some countries anxious. We agreed that we should also invite India, Australia and New Zealand and keep the center in ASEAN; also, India would be a useful balance to China’s heft. This is a getting-together of countries that believe their economic and cultural relations will grow over the years. And this will be a restoration of two ancient civilizations: China and India. With their revival, their influence will again spread into Southeast Asia. It would mean great prosperity for the region, but could also mean a tussle for power. Therefore, we think it best that from the beginning, we bring all the parties in together. It’s not Asians versus whites. Everybody knows Australia and New Zealand are close to the U.S. There shouldn’t be any concern that this is an anti-American grouping. It’s a neater balance. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Economics, Finance, Influence, International Relations, Opinion, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Time Magazine

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