Despite government, public complacency, appalling pollution leading to “airwakening”

Globally, China and air pollution remain synonymous. I lived in Beijing between 2002 and 2009, when visits to India invariably included conversations with aunties delightedly commiserating about China's toxic air. "Oh ho! Such terrible pollution. Tch! Tch!" This tone of schadenfreude stemmed from the fact that after years of marveling at China's economic ascent, Indians…
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Delhi, where even China’s pollution fades into insignificance.

Having grown up in perennially polluted New Delhi, smoggy skies were so unremarkable to me that I didn’t even notice anything was awry in Beijing for years after moving there. Till a spring morning in 2006. It was an ordinary start to the day in most respects. I ate a quick breakfast of jian bing,…
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Moving between Beijing and Brussels, “Choked” draws parallels for Delhi

A month after the Olympic Games, our baby boy was born in a Beijing hospital. First-time parenthood engendered a siege mentality in us. We moved out of the charming but less-than-hygienic hutong neighbourhoods we had lived in for six years, and bunkered down in the double-glazed safety of the Diplomatic Compound. We began to navigate…
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The Foreign Correspondent

My first foreign posting was in Beijing, for the Hindu. This was from 2002 to 2009, when the city was remorseless in its embrace of a glass and chrome version of modernity. A steady stream of friends from India used to visit. I’d pick them up at the airport and take them by cab down…
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Leftover Women by Leta Hong Fincher

I lived in China for seven years between 2002 and 2009. My first impressions of the capital city, Beijing, were a mosaic of images and scents: dazzling sheaths of glass and chrome that reared up into the sky; the whiff of jasmine rising from steaming cups of tea; old men in Mao jackets taking caged…
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Strange Stones by Peter Hessler

THE CHINESE LANGUAGE has a way of transforming the familiar into the off-kilter. A location like Wyoming, for example, mutates into Wai Er Ming. The line between the uncommon and the mundane is easily breached when languages, cultures, and peoples collide. And it is these transgressions that tie together the wide-ranging chapters of Strange Stones:…
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Super Power? The Amazing Race Between China’s Hare And India’s Tortoise By Raghav Bahl

The one constant in the surfeit of recent India-China comparisons is the abundant use of animal-related cliches—tigers, dragons, elephants and peacocks, dancing, lumbering or prancing about. Media guru Raghav Bahl’s debut book, Super Power?, adds to this pantheon by framing his analysis as a race between China’s hare and India’s tortoise. The purpose of Bahl’s…
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When a Billion Chinese Jump by Jonathan Watts

One way of framing the complexity of China’s long history is to understand it as the interplay of ideas between the pragmatic, human-centric precepts of Confucianism and the nature-worshipping, harmony-seeking philosophy of Daoism. This dichotomy between values that stress conquering nature for human benefit and those that emphasise the importance of seeking a sustainable balance…
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China’s Olympic Run

BEIJING: For seven years the Beijing Olympics have provided the over-arching umbrella under which Chinese authorities have sheltered while pushing through some of the most sweeping transformations of a society the world has seen. With traditional beliefs like Confucianism having been battered by decades of communist struggle and in turn socialism’s egalitarian ideals punctured by…
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Why Beijing Can’t Grasp Tibet

  BEIJING - Over the past three decades, the Chinese leadership has proven remarkably responsive to changing circumstances. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has displayed a pragmatism and flexibility that has allowed it to retain power, even as the Iron Curtain of the former Soviet Union was torn down along large parts of China's…
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