Changing China

Giant on the move

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China: Green or Gray?

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As Copenhagen’s climate talks draw near, more and more critics are turning to the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and asking how much damage has been done and what is being done about it?

China’s booming double-digit growth came with a price. Coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels produces 80 percent of the country’s energy. But China says change is already well underway. The government recently announced that it aims to cut 2005 carbon intensity levels by 40-45 percent by 2020.

 

Wu Changhua, Greater China Director of think tank The Climate Group, argues that while China’s pollution levels are closely monitored, it’s green efforts often go unnoticed:

     The great retreat…

Glaciers melt by the road to Copenhagen.

High up on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, according scientists at China's Institute of Sciences.

A tale of two stadiums

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Evacuated people rest at a sports stadium which was turned into a temporary shelter in MianyangThis weekend, Beijing inaugurated the new Bird’s Nest Stadium with the “Good Luck Beijing” track and field event. I attended less than 24 hours after covering the earthquake in Sichuan, and the contrast between sports and rubble was a little hard to digest.

The Bird’s Nest stadium, built for the Olympics, can seat 91,000 fans. The air flows through well, keeping it cool in the muggy Beijing summer. The seats are well-positioned, so the contestants can be seen easily. The screens are visible, the sound-system clear, the lighting strong but not harsh.

The earthquake and the Olympics

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A soldier carries out relief work as a Beijing Olympics countdown board is seen in the background after an earthquake in BeichuanThe tenor of China’s Olympic year changed dramatically over the past two weeks.

What had been a building crescendo of celebration and national pride turned into an outpouring of grief and support for the earthquake-hit province of Sichuan.

Disaster in Sichuan

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Earthquake damage in Dujiangyan

I was one of the first foreign reporters on the scene after a devastating earthquake hit the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on May 12.

It all seemed so normal when I arrived in the provincial capital Chengdu, some 12 hours after the 7.9 magnitude tremor hit, that I thought maybe the area had got off lightly. But heading in the hard hit town of Dujiangyan, just north of Chengdu, two hours after arriving in Sichuan, I realised how bad the situation was.

Where next for the torch?

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The national flag in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square flies at half mast in memory of those who died in the massive earthquakePreparations for the Beijing Olympics have understandably taken a back seat to the tragedy in Sichuan.

On Sunday, it was announced that the torch relay would be suspended from Monday to Wednesday to mark three days of national mourning.

Bread? That’s not for eating

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A Chinese employee carries a tray of Mantou steamed bread made of wheat flour in Xi’anAfter laying out our spread of spicy Sichuan food, the waitress returned with four slightly stale slices of white bread, each on their own glistening plates.      

I wondered briefly if DIY chili chicken and peanut sandwiches were a new fad in Chinese restaurants, but when I asked her how I was supposed to eat mine, she looked at me as if I was mad.     

China’s third-tier cities

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Forget Beijing and Shanghai. If you want to see real China, go to some of the country’s third tier cities.

They’re fascinating, and I’ve been trying to go to as many as possible before leaving China for my next post. Places like Chifeng, Ulanhot, Ankang and Golmud.

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