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Scenes From China

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China, now the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast and diverse country that is nearly impossible to sum up in a single photo essay. But here is an attempt -- a recent photographic look across the nation. The ruling Communist Party is gearing up for its 90th anniversary. Massive growth and construction continue to raise environmental concerns. And three years later, residents of Sichuan are still recovering from the May 2008 earthquake that killed more than 85,000. This collection is only a small glimpse of events in China over the past month. [48 photos]

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Actresses wait at backstage to perform Kunqu Opera "Dream of the Red Chamber" in Beijing, on Friday, May 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Actresses wait at backstage to perform Kunqu Opera "Dream of the Red Chamber" in Beijing, on Friday, May 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A picture shows the view of Hong Kong Island from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, on April 25, 2011. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman tries to open the door of a metal gate next to a statue of a headless red guard in Beijing, on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. (AP Photo) #
Former Red Army soldier Pan Xianying, one of three remaining members of a famed Communist all-women army unit, poses for a photo at her home near the city of Qionghai on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, on April 16, 2011. Nearly 100 years old, Pan is one of the attractions of a "red" tour amid a renewed nationwide interest in revolutionary ideals as the ruling Communist Party prepares to mark its 90th anniversary. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
A helicopter lifts part of an electrical pylon at a construction site of the Qinghai-Tibet power line project in Geermu, Qinghai province, on May 17, 2011. China's overall power consumption in April rose 11.2 percent from a year earlier to 376.8 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), data from the National Energy Administration showed. (Reuters/Rooney Chen) #
Guo Huiying holds one of her two dogs at her apartment in Shanghai, on May 13, 2011. Under the city's "One Dog Policy" to be implemented next week, residents may only have one dog per household, must keep dogs in public areas leashed at all times and put muzzles on large dogs to prevent them from biting others. Huiying is in the process of registering her two dogs before the new regulations take affect. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Dark clouds bear down on the city of Foshan, in Guangdong Province on April 17, 2011. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) #
Models dressed in costumes perform during the opening ceremony of the Chaoyang International Pop Music Festival in Beijing, on Friday, April 29, 2011. (AP Photo) #
A Chinese man, left, draws a painting of the scenery while a villager rows a wooden boat passing by the Ming Dynasty's ancient buildings built along a river in Xitang, Jiashan County, China's Zhejiang Province, on Monday, May 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
A child wears a scarf during a sandstorm in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, on May 12, 2011. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A window view overlooks the Victoria Harbor from a junior suite located on the 111th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the International Commerce Centre (ICC), the world's fourth tallest building, in Hong Kong, on May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Bobby Yip) #
Employees clean the floor as a model poses next to a vehicle during the 14th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition April 20, 2011. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Chinese residents line up to pay their respects to the victims of the 2008 earthquake near a memorial at Xuankou Middle School in Yingxiu town in southwest China's Sichuan province, on Thursday, May 12, 2011. May 12th marked the 3rd anniversary of the magnitude-7.9 Sichuan temblor that left almost 90,000 people dead or missing. (AP Photo) #
A statue of late Chairman Mao Zedong is pictured at a white marble factory in Dashiwo town of Fangshan District, 70 km (43 miles) from Beijing, on April 11, 2011. Dashiwo is known as the home of white marble in China, its white marble was used for the largest marble ramp in the Forbidden City built in 1420, famous modern architectures in the capital and statues for top Chinese politicians. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
A three-year-old girl practices ballet at Feier Angel dance training center in Beijing, on April 23, 2011. About 100 girls, mostly between the ages of 3 and 7, learn ballet at the center. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
A Tibetan man pulls a horse used for carrying tourists on the shores of Lake Namtso, Tibet Autonomous Region, on May 10, 2011. (Reuters/Rooney Chen) #
A security guard stands near a statue of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius in front of China's National Museum near the Tiananmen Square on March 31, 2011. The statue was recently quietly removed by authorities -- the mysterious removal leaving many Chinese looking for an explanation. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Women wearing bikinis form the word "happy" during a bikini contest in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, on Sunday, May 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Xinhua/Liu Dawei) #
A worker walks on a steel girder at a building under construction in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on May 5, 2011. (Reuters/Sean Yong) #
A woman and her daughter touch a structural model of the earth's core at Nanjing Geological Museum in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on April 22, 2011. The Chinese characters on the model read "outer core". (Reuters/Sean Yong) #
Chinese artists perform on stage during the opening ceremony of the International Horticultural Exposition 2011 at the Exposition Park on April 28, 2011 in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province of China. The World Horticultural Exposition 2011 will be held in Xi'an from April 28 to October 22. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) #
A worker stands in front of containers at a port in Shanghai May 10, 2011. China posted its biggest trade surplus in four months in April, swinging from a trade deficit in the first quarter, as exports hit a record on stronger global demand despite initial signs of a pinch from Japan's earthquake and nuclear crisis. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
A pro-democracy protester releases a kite depicting detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei during a protest to demand the release of the outspoken government critic, in Hong Kong, on Monday, May 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) #
A flock of snipes flies over the Yalu River Estuary Nature Reserve in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, on May 5, 2011. Spanning an area of around 100,000 hectares, the nature reserve encompasses a diverse ecosystem of plants, wild birds and fish. It is also an important habitat for migratory birds for the world's ten flyways, supporting some endangered species of migratory birds, according to local media. (Reuters/Jacky Chen) #
A paramilitary policeman keeps watch in front of Beijing's Tiananmen Gate, on May 13, 2011. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
A 22-year-old woman in a wedding gown is grabbed by Guo Zhongfan, a local community officer, as she attempts to kill herself by jumping out of a seven-story residential building in Changchun, Jilin province, in this combination picture taken May 17, 2011. According to local media, the woman tried to commit suicide after her boyfriend of four years broke up with her, just as they were making plans to get married. The woman did not sustain any injuries during the incident. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A large monument depicting fighting horses stands in the main square in the Kangbashi district of the town of Ordos, located around 30 km south of the city of Dongsheng in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on May 11, 2011. The Kangbashi district of Ordos, which means 'palaces' in the Mongolian language, is an area filled with thousands of residential apartments and duplex-style homes, built to house mainly workers for the nearby coal mines located just outside the town. However, the estimated one million people that were expected to move into the district's now decaying buildings, have yet to appear. (Reuters/David Gray) #
Newly planted trees line a new street in front of residential buildings under construction in the Kangbashi district of the town of Ordos, south of the city of Dongsheng in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on May 11, 2011. The Kangbashi district includes many large office towers, administrative centers, government buildings, museums, theaters, schools playing fields and exhibition centers. The estimated one million people that were expected to move into or visit the district's now decaying buildings, have yet to appear. (Reuters/David Gray) #
An elderly farmer takes a break from working in his field on the outskirts of the town of Zhucheng, in Shandong province, on April 20, 2011. The fertile fields of Shandong Province in eastern China are an unlikely microcosm of the national economy. There is not a power plant or factory in sight, yet the area encapsulates as well as any industrial city some of the forces that are reshaping the country. People grumble about rising prices, adding weight to the authorities' concern that inflation could spark unrest. The virtual absence of any farmers under 40 speaks to China's urbanization, with youngsters decamping as soon as they can to work in towns near and far, leaving their aging parents to till the soil. With the rural labor pool shrinking, wages are rising. China's vast rural economy, home to over 700 million people, seems to be doing well. But urban China is doing much better, and the resulting inequality is a nagging concern for the ruling Communist Party. (Reuters/David Gray) #
Rock fans cheer lead singer Dominik Sannemann of the German band Gammalux, as he performs at the 2011 MIDI Music Festival at Jinglang Island park in Beijing, on April 30, 2011. (Reuters/Barry Huang) #
A red flag is seen on the Luanling section of the Great Wall, in Huairou District, about 80 km (50 miles) away from downtown Beijing, on May 7, 2011. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari drives during the final practice session prior to qualifying for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, on April 16, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Clive Mason/Getty Images) #
A model prepares to show off his body painting by New Zealand artist Men Bourk and Chinese painter Ren Zhongni during a body-painting festival in southwest China's Chongqing municipality on May 8, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
A boat is seen stranded on the cracked bed of a dried area of Xieshan, which is part of Poyang Lake in east China's Jiangxi Province, on May 4, 2011. Chinese officials on Wednesday warned that an extended low-flow period, caused by the lingering spring drought in central China, might pose a threat to navigation in parts of the Yangtze River, the longest waterway in China, Xinhua News Agency reported. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Soldiers dry military boots in a barracks on May 10, 2011, in Beijing, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
In this Sunday, April 17, 2011 photo, Chinese Air Force crew members inspect a J-20 stealth fighter in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan province. (AP Photo) #
A wedding party poses for pictures with the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the background on a hazy day in Shanghai, on May 3, 2011. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Workers block off the site of a huge sinkhole which occurred overnight on Shiliuzhuang road, in Beijing, on on April 26, 2011. A section of the road collapsed beneath a truck, slightly injuring the driver and a passenger, who both jumped out the vehicle before it sank into the hole. An authority suspects the hole was caused by the construction of a subway line. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
A satellite dish on top of a residential building is silhouetted by the setting sun in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
A vast expanse of toxic waste fills a tailings dam on April 21, 2011, frequently whipped up by strong winds carrying millions of tons of radioactive material toward surrounding villages where farmers blame the state-owned giant Baogang Group, China's largest producer of rare earths and a major iron ore miner and steel producer, for poisoning their fields and ruining their livelihoods near Baotou city in Inner Mongolia, northwest China. Farmers living near the tailings dam, a 10-square-kilometer expanse of toxic waste, say they have lost teeth and their hair has turned white while tests show the soil and water contain high levels of cancer-causing radioactive materials. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images) #
A "Red Tourist" poses for a photo at a former Red Army settlement near the city of Qionghai on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, on April 16, 2011. The Red Tours officially launched earlier this year amid a renewed nationwide interest in revolutionary ideals as the ruling Communist Party prepares to mark its 90th anniversary. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman picks up a board in search for recyclable metal items in a demolished area in Beijing, China, on Thursday, May 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #
Firefighters battle a fire at a chemical plant in the Tongzhou district on May 17, 2011, in Beijing, China. The fire was spotted at about 3:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday and was put out three hours later. No casualties except the loss of more than 200 thousand RMB (about 30,000 USD) in damages. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) #
South Korean artist Kan Mi-youn showcases fashion produced by Honey's closet during the Tokyo Girls Collection fashion show held in Beijing, on Saturday, May 7, 2011. The Tokyo-originated fashion festival where non-professional audience can make a purchase on the spot through the mobile phone site, was held for the first time for Chinese people in the street. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Two statues used to be on the bank of Liujiang River is submerged in flood water on May 14, 2011 in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region of China. Heavy rainfall has caused water levels of the Liujiang River to rise. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) #
A performer uses a whip to clip the top of a cigarette held in the mouth of his young assistant in Hefei, Anhui province, on May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer) #
An Air China plane comes in to land over the roof of the railway station at Beijing's international airport, on April 21, 2011. (Reuters/David Gray) #
A cat looks out from a cafe window in a hutong alley in Beijing, on Thursday, May 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #

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