Architects and critics within and beyond China have treated these derivative designs with scorn, as shameless kitsch or simply trash. Others cite China’s larger knock-off culture, from handbags to housing, as evidence of the innovation gap between China and the United States. For a larger audience on the Internet, they are merely a punchline, another example of China’s endlessly entertaining wackiness.
In short, the majority of Chinese architectural imitation, oozing with historical romanticism, is not taken seriously.
But perhaps it ought to be.
See more. [Images: Bianca Bosker]
How bad is it? The U.S. considers air with miniscule particles above 100 micrograms per cubic meter as “unsafe.” This weekend, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing logged concentrations almost as high as 900 micrograms. As many as 33 cities had “hazardous” air during the weekend, according to Chinese media, leading to crushes of people seeking medical help for breathing problems and a booming market for face masks.
Chinese officials’ response to the air-pollution crisis has been quick and decisive. Stay indoors! they say. Dozens of construction sites have shut down to help diminish the foul cloud. So far, the situation has not approached the direness of the weather-related smogmageddon of October 2010. An ocean of cottony air reduced visibility to as little as 330 feet in places, leading to a rash of traffic accidents that wound up killing at least 32 people.
Read more. [Images: Jason Lee, Reuters]
As the stroke of midnight rolled across the world’s time zones, people gathered in private and took to the streets to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, 2013. Fireworks erupted from Sydney to Moscow, and revelers gathered in London, Dakar, New York, Las Vegas, and thousands of other places, raising a glass, keeping warm, making resolutions, and wishing each other a “Happy New Year!”
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters, Getty]
In Taiyuan, in northern China’s Shanxi province, construction began on a new high-end residential compound last year. When developers needed to excavate a cemetery for the building’s foundation, they offered to pay villagers to relocate the remains of loved ones. One family refused to budge, complaining that the compensation was too low. In China, such disputed plots are typically known as “nail houses,” and developers continue to build around them while the issue is resolved. In this case, workers carved out a “nail grave” belonging to the family of Chang Jinzhu. The small, bizarre column stood 10 meters above the foundation floor for months. This week, it was reported that Jinzhu’s family had reached an agreement with the construction consortium, receiving 800 Yuan ($128 USD) in compensation. A platform and bridge to the gravesite were built, and the family had the four coffins and gravestones removed.
See more. [Images: Getty]
For decades, every trend in manufacturing favored the developing world and worked against the United States. But new tools that greatly speed up development from idea to finished product encourage start-up companies to locate here, not in Asia. Could global trade winds finally be blowing toward America again?
Read more. [Image: David Hogsholt]
We’re not here to debate whether or not North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, is the sexiest man alive. No, we’re here to snicker that The Onion fooled China’s communist paper into thinking it so. The actual article from the People’s Daily Online, the official newspaper of China’s communist party, isn’t much more than taking a few quotes from the Onion article and smacking them onto a 55-PAGE SLIDESHOW GALLERY of Kim looking all majestic and whatnot.
Read more. [Image: The Korea Times, People’s Daily Online]
The growth of China’s massive population has slowed in recent years, but migration to urban areas has increased, with almost half of China’s 1.3 billion people living in or near cities. A booming economy, government housing initiatives, infrastructure programs, and private real estate speculation have all driven construction to record levels. New apartment, office, and government buildings regularly rise up over older neighborhoods, and thousands have relocated to modern housing complexes. The blend of old and new Chinese architecture is ever-present in cities and villages, as older buildings are torn down and newer ones built at ever faster rates. The images below show glimpses of Chinese architecture, both traditional and modern, as it appears today.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters]
It’s happened all over the world, and it’s happening in China, too. As the country’s middle class swells in number — and its people discover the pleasures and disappointments of a life spent pursuing material comfort — there has come the emergence of a distinct counter-culture. In Chinese, they are thewenyi qingnian (文艺青年), orwenqing for short, literally meaning “cultured youth.” It’s China’s closest equivalent to the alternately beloved and reviled English word, “hipster.”
What does a typical “cultured youth” look like? Baidu Baike, China’s version of Wikipedia, contains an entry on the term that quotes writer and musician Guo Xiaohan: “I’m a very typical wenyi qingnian. I like poetry, novels, indie music, European cinema, taking pictures, writing blogs, cats, gardening, quilting, making dessert and designing environmentally friendly bags.”
Read more. [Image: Weibo, Tea Leaf Nation]
The People’s Republic of China, the most populous country, and the second-largest economy, in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve. In this, the latest entry in a semi-regular series on China, we find a tremendous variety of images, including a military theme park, a rocket launch, a seriously massive shoe, a Pac Man soap-box racer, and a man who invented his own prosthetic arms. This collection offers only a small view of people and places across the country over the past several weeks.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters]
[Image: Pew Research Center]