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21st-Century China

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China, the most populous country (1.3 billion people) and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. Recent events in China include a successful satellite launch that lays the groundwork for a space station, the completion of a massive skyscraper in a rather small village, the 26th Universiade games for student athletes, the celebration of National Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and much more. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [49 photos]

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Chinese artist Liu Bolin waits for his colleagues to put a finishing touch on him to blend into rows of soft drinks in his artwork entitled "Plasticizer" to express his speechlessness at use of plasticizer in food additives, in his studio at the 798 Art District in Beijing, China, on August 10, 2011. (AP Photo)
Chinese artist Liu Bolin waits for his colleagues to put a finishing touch on him to blend into rows of soft drinks in his artwork entitled "Plasticizer" to express his speechlessness at use of plasticizer in food additives, in his studio at the 798 Art District in Beijing, China, on August 10, 2011. (AP Photo)
A Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, on September 29, 2011. China launched the experimental module to lay the groundwork for a future space station on Thursday, underscoring its ambitions to become a major space power. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Jianmin) #
Riders pass the grandstand during the 9th National Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities of the People's Republic of China on September 12, 2011 in Guiyang, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
Members of an honor guard stand in formation ahead of a welcome ceremony for Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 11, 2011. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
Ethnic Dong minority children run on a paddy field in Tongguan village of Liping county, Guizhou province, on October 16, 2011. According to the local government, Tongguan village is the birthplace of the Kam Grand Choir, which is a traditional polyphonic choral performance of the Dong minority. The villagers in Tongguan keep a routine for choir practise, dressed in their traditional costumes, whenever they are free from farming. Practice usually occurs twice a week during the day, and almost every evening. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
This picture taken on October 18, 2011 shows a young monk walking past the door of a monastery in Hongyuan county in China's Sichuan province. Tibetan Buddhist monks in China say a wave of self-immolations is linked to Beijing's refusal to engage with the Dalai Lama, and fear the protests will make their lives even more difficult. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Tibetan child holds a portrait of Tibetan monk Phuntsog who killed himself through self-immolation, during a tribute session at the Tibetan Refugee Center in Lalitpur, on October 11, 2011. Phuntsog was one of the men in ethnically Tibetan parts of China's southwestern Sichuan province who have set themselves on fire since March in opposition to religious controls by Beijing, which labels their exiled spiritual leader a violent separatist. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar) #
A rescue serviceman checks for people as a passenger boat capsizes after being hit by a restaurant boat on the flooded Jialing River in southwest China's Chongqing municipality, on September 20, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
Hong Kong design student Jonathan Mak poses with a symbol he designed, in Hong Kong, on October 6, 2011. Nineteen-year-old Mak's poignant tribute to Apple founder Steve Jobs became an internet hit with its minimalist, touching symbolism and brought a job offer and a flood of commemorative merchandise using his design. (Reuters/Bobby Yip) #
A model poses for photographers on the banks of a runway for Hong Kong's international airport, on October 16, 2011. Photography clubs are no strangers to the camera-mad city's open spaces, turning rocky outcrops into improptu studios where they can often be found huddled before aspiring models and a breathtaking backdrop. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
Two horses duel in the horse fighting competition at Gulongpo in the Xiangfen Township of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on September 13, 2011. People in Rongshui County usually hold horse fighting competitions to pray for and celebrate harvest on the 16th day of the first month and the eighth month of the lunar calendar every year. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Long Tao) #
A remote controlled helicopter hovers over the Qiantang River as tourists gather on the river bank to see the incoming bore tide in Haining, Zhejiang province, on September 13, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Spectators flee as waves created by a tidal bore crash over a barrier on the Qiantang river at Haining, in east China's Zhejiang province, on August 31, 2011. About 20 people were injured when they were caught too close to the river while viewing the annual tidal bore, which occurs when sea water from an unusually high tide funnels into the river, creating high waves. (AP Photo) #
Laborers set up lights on a framework of an under construction bridge in Wuhan, Hubei province, on October 17, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Chinese police show off a new crowd control weapon, a giant fork, during a drill in Beijing, on October 12, 2011. Growing protests and unrests are hitting China in recent months, as social discontent and ethnic tensions boil over. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
A night scene of an array of edifices and the Jiaxiulou Tower, the city's landmark ancient building for sightseeing, on September 9, 2011 in Guiyang city of Guizhou Province, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
A tourist walks on the Great Wall of China at sunset in Luanping, in northern China's Hebei province, on September 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #
A worker lies on cotton as he rests at a cotton purchase station in Wuhu, Anhui province, on October 5, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A teacher covers a child with a quilt as children take an afternoon nap at a kindergarten in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, on September 14, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Local farmer Shu Mansheng starts the engines of his self-designed and homemade flying device before a test flight in front of his house in Dashu village on the outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei province, on September 21, 2011. The round steel flying device, which cost more than 20,000 yuan ($3,135), is the fifth model made by Shu, a junior middle school graduate. It measures around 5.5 meters (18 feet) in diameter, and is powered by eight motorcycle engines. Shu managed to hover for 10 seconds at about 1 meter (3.3 feet) above ground during a recent test flight. (Reuters/Stringer) #
The newly inaugurated skyscraper tower of Huaxi village is seen in Huaxi village, Jiangsu province, on October 7, 2011. Huaxi, also known as China's richest village, celebrated its 50th anniversary with the inauguration of a massive 328-meter (1,076 feet) high skyscraper that screams for attention from its lowly skyline. A solid gold bull weighing a ton also greets visitors at a viewing area on the 60th-floor of the tower, a testament to the wealth of the village. In Huaxi, those from the original 2,000 residents have at least a house, a car, and $250,000 in the bank and enjoy universal health care and free education. Officials from elsewhere in China tour Huaxi to find out how this once sleepy village, with just 576 residents in the 1950s, is now so rich and why non-local businessmen would donate million-dollar factories to buy the privilege of a local residence permit. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Residents eat "ma la tang", a Chinese Sichuan spicy steam snack, in Beijing, on September 27, 2011. (Reuters/Soo Hoo Zheyang) #
The Huangguoshu Cataract, Asia's largest waterfall, viewed on September 13, 2011 in Anshun city of Guizhou Province, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
Artists perform at the opening ceremony of the 26th Universiade games, a sporting event for for university athletes, at Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in Shenzhen, China, on August 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) #
A local resident looks at a fire from an oil refinery at Pudong district in Shanghai September 23, 2011. Fire broke out in a storage tank after an explosion in Gaoqiao oil refinery, according to local media, no casualties were reported. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
Employees work on partial plastinated human body specimens at a workshop of Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Co. Ltd. in Dalian, Liaoning province, on September 14, 2011. Founded by Dr. Sui Hongjin in 2004, Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Co. Ltd. produces, preserves and exhibits plastinated biotic specimens of human and animals. The specimens, including whole bodies as well as individual organs and transparent body slices, each requires four employees to work on it for 8 to 12 months. The exhibits have been meticulously dissected and preserved to allow visitors to view muscular, nervous, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. According to Sui, the bodies are legally collected from medical universities. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
Wingsuit flyer Jeb Corliss of the U.S. flies through the cave on Tianmen Mountain near Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, on September 24, 2011. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A woman is reflected in a window of an office in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, on September 22, 2011. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Low dark cloud hangs over an empty Victoria Harbor in the morning during a Typhoon 8 Signal Warning as Typhoon Nesat passed close to Hong Kong on September 29, 2011. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
Women play the bagpipes as they stand on a beach in Hong Kong, on October 9, 2011. Finding practice areas in the densely populated city is notoriously difficult for practitioners of the instrument traditionally associated with Scotland and Ireland. However, the pipes enjoy a loyal following throughout much of Asia and are a regular feature of military and police bands across the region. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
Workers hang a new portrait of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong at the Tiananmen Gate to replace the old one, which is being removed by a crane, during an annual renovation ahead of National Day, in Beijing, on September 27, 2011. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Middle school students sing revolutionary songs as they hold Chinese national flags during a ceremony to celebrate their upcoming National Day in Huaying, Sichuan province, on September 30, 2011. A total of 1,000 students took part in the ceremony. (Reuters/China Daily) #
An ethnic Dong minority woman uses her mobile phone to take a picture of herself after a Kam Grand Choir gathering in Tongguan village of Liping county, Guizhou province, on October 17, 2011. The villagers in Tongguan keep a routine for choir practice, dressed in their traditional costumes, whenever they are free from farming. Practice usually occurs twice a week during the day, and almost every evening. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
A full moon, viewed behind decorative lights put up at Hong Kong's Victoria Park, on September 11, 2011. An exhibition is being held at the park to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu) #
Villagers from Longtou in Lufeng, a city of 1.7 million, play on the rubble of a surrounding wall in the southern Chinese Guangdong province, on September 24, 2011, after it was torn down by villagers earlier in the week. Villagers said about 1,500 acres of farmland seized were surrounded by the walls built several years ago. Hundreds of villagers enraged over government land seizures staged a third day of protests in southern China on Friday, a day after ransacking government buildings and engaging in skirmishes with police that left at least 12 people injured. (Reuters/Staff) #
A visitor takes a photo of a sculpture by Xiang Jing in an exhibition entitled "Will Things Ever Get Better?" in Beijing, China, on October 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
Office workers are seen in a building in Shanghai, on September 21, 2011. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
A general view shows the Ordos Museum building in the city center of Ordos, Inner Mongolia, on September 12, 2011. The city which is commonly referred to as a "Ghost Town" due to its lack of people, is being built to house 1.5 million inhabitants and has been dubbed as the "Dubai of China" by locals. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images) #
Ethnic Dong minority villagers walk through a covered bridge on their way to a Kam Grand Choir gathering in Tongguan village of Liping county, Guizhou province, on October 17, 2011. (Reuters/Sheng Li) #
Chinese environmental activist Wu Lihong checks the water quality in an irrigation channel outside a chemical factory beside a rice paddy on the edge of Taihu Lake in Yixing in Jiangsu Province, on September 14, 2011. Despite a two-decade battle to clean up the once-scenic Taihu Lake that earned him three years in jail, Wu says the water still "stinks" from pollution. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images) #
Chinese flag bearers take part in a ceremony to mark China's National Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on October 1, 2011. China's top leaders marked national day with an appearance on Tiananmen Square in central Beijing after Prime Minister Wen Jiabao pledged greater "democracy" and rights for the people. (Takuro YABE/AFP/Getty Images) #
A policeman from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team performs stunts on a motorcycle during a drill held in Wuhan, Hubei province, on October 20, 2011. Eighteen SWAT police teams from all over China took part in the drill on Thursday. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A Chinese child walks on the mirrors as she tours the "Beyond the Vision" artwork exhibition designed by French artist Serge Salat in Beijing, on September 24, 2011. The multi-sensory art exhibition sponsored by General Motors China will travel 10 cities of China from September to November 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
A tourist takes pictures at Namtso lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region, on September 14, 2011. Located at an altitude of around 4,718m above sea level, Namtso lake is not only the highest saltwater lake in the world, but also home to one of the holiest rivers attracting throngs of devotees and pilgrims on major Buddhist festivals. (Reuters/Kong Yen Lin) #
Family members attend an outdoor wedding in the garden of an old villa in central Shanghai, China, on October 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #
A giant panda cub lies in a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on October 11, 2011. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A garbage collector is reflected in the polished marble wall of a building as he rests at the entrance of the building where the air-conditioned cool air is blowing in Shanghai, China, on September 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) #
The Miao ethnic minority dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony for the 9th National Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities of the People's Republic of China, on September 10, 2011 in Guiyang, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
A flock of birds fly near the Drum Tower, located on the central axis of the Forbidden City, as the city is shrouded in haze, in Beijing, China, on October 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #

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