March 9, 2021

China’s High-Speed Trains Seen As National Pride and Safety Risk

China plans a 16,000-kilometer high-speed rail network. Already, 13,500 kilometers have been built, including the line between Beijing and Qingdao. Photo/J.Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue QINGDAO — It’s 670 kilometers, about 420 miles, between Beijing and this Pacific coast city of glass towers, 10-lane boulevards, sandy beaches, and 8 million metropolitan residents. On China’s high-speed white and blue bullet train, the trip takes four hours and 20 minutes. Whoosh! In the United States, meanwhile, the …

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Danger in Attacking China Is The Big Hurt It Would Put On US

China’s steady growth relies, in part, on its capacity to build new rail lines, a transportation option available here in Beijing and throughout the country. Photo\Keith Schneider BEIJING — The Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the U.S. government’s marvelous data gathering groups, has spents months making public facts about job and business growth that tell an unexpected story about the American economy. Two of the biggest generators of new jobs and rising incomes in …

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In Hunt For China’s First Shale Gas Wells, An Encounter With The Police

XINCHANGZHEN, China – The default position when confronted by the police, in the United States or anywhere else, is to follow directions and be respectful. So when two police officers in a white and blue van blocked our vehicle, then deliberately strolled over to the driver’s side window to ask for my passport and the national identification card of my translator, I reminded myself that they’re just cops. Do as they say. It was Thursday …

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Bill, Monica, and Hillary: A Chinese Artist’s Homage

CHENGDU, China — Peter Marsters, a colleague, friend, and Fulbright Fellow studying at Sichuan University, led me to the basement of the Shangri-La Hotel here the other night. “You have to see this painting of Bill Clinton and Monica,” he said. The back story is that a Chinese artist and friend of the hotel owner painted an homage to Bill, Monica, and one of America’s great political sex scandals. The hotel owner displays the painting …

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TIC – This is China

CHENGDU, China — There’s no place that I’ve been in China — and I’ve visited 13 provinces — where cell phone service isn’t excellent. Cell phones connect in deep mountain highway tunnels in Sichuan, in the dry mountainous valleys of Gansu, and in the subways of Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. But the Internet? Awful everywhere. Slow. Blocked. Unreliable. How does a nation so intent on taking its place at the head of global leadership deliberately …

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Chengdu’s Modern Beauty — Bustling, Not Bursting

CHENGDU, China — Sichuan University, one of China’s best, held its graduation today. The campus, which is green and shady and is woven into this giant city’s central business district, much the way NYU’s campus is sewed into lower Manhattan, was abuzz with young energy. Not far away, the Fuann River (see pix below) flows through the city, contained in an engineered channel bordered on each side by river-length walkways, parks, and shade trees. At …

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Qingdao, A Beautiful Pacific Coast City, Beckons To Be China’s Cleanest

QINGDAO, China — The Pacific Ocean tugs at the rocky shoreline on this city’s eastern boundary. Rugged claw-peaked mountains are sentinels to the north and west. Qingdao lays out on a plain of flat ground and rolling hills between the natural barriers, a just-built urban center of high rise office and apartment towers, 10-lane boulevards, and a goal of achieving stature as a model Chinese “eco-city.” I am spending a couple of days in this …

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Outside Shenyang Lessons in Rice, Water, and Farming

SHENYANG, China — The rice paddies start immediately beyond the borders of Liaoning’s provincial capital, a growing city of 8.1 million residents. Like a whirling turbine, the city flings 10-lane boulevards and 30-story apartment towers ever farther into the countryside. I’m out tracking down new irrigation systems, part of my research on Chinese grain production for Circle of Blue. Finding the rice and evidence of China’s new investment in modern irrigation infrastructure is a 50-minute …

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Annals of Excess in China: The $317,000 Wedding Cake

SHENYANG, China — Does excess consumerism represent the measure of a great nation? Or does it portend something darker, a treacherous crack opening in society? Either way, the wedding cakes for sale at the Black Swan bakery here in Liaoning’s provincial capital are a clear reflection of 1) the astounding wealth some attain in China’s bursting economy, and 2) the indecorous way that the rich communicate their separate stature. The biggest cake, aswirl in swans …

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Production, Water Savings, and a Heroic History on China’s State-Owned Farms

HONGXINGLONG, China — When she was a very young woman Liang Jun was one of the tens of thousands of durable adults dispatched by China’s new Communist Central Government in the early 1950s with orders to break open the prairie of this cold and formidable northeast province. Until agronomists and engineers from the Soviet Union offered their assistance, and their steel-tracked grey tractors, the work of cutting open land that was bound together by the …

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