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Scenes From 21st-Century China

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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 an earthquake in Gansu province, a massive rubber duck in Beijing, a narrow five-story nail house, and a replica of Paris -- complete with an Eiffel Tower. This collection offers only a small view of people and places across the country over the past few months. [40 photos]

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A Beijing Opera actress applies makeup backstage before the show begins in Shanghai, China, on June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A Beijing Opera actress applies makeup backstage before the show begins in Shanghai, China, on June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Chinese inventor Tao Xiangli controls his self-made humanoid robot with a remote control, at his house located in a old residential area of Beijing, on August 8, 2013. The self-taught Chinese inventor built "The King of Innovation" out of scrap metal and electronic wires that he bought from a second-hand market. Tao completed his creation in less than a year, with costs of production and living expenses amounting to 300,000 yuan ($49,037). However, the robot, which measures 2.1 meters (6.9 feet) in height and 480 kg (1058 lbs) in weight, turned out to be too tall and heavy to walk out of the front door of his house. It can perform simple movements with its hands and legs and also mimic human voices. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
Two men walk on a square inside a newly built commercial complex housing office and retail space in Beijing, on July 17, 2013. China has pledged to double household incomes over the coming decade in a bid to close a wealth gap so wide it threatens social stability. Although the proportion of extreme poverty has fallen over recent decades, about 12 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people still live on less than $1.25 per day, according to a 2013 United Nations report. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
A man herds horses in Xilin Gol League, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on July 13, 2013. The annual two-day event has drawn around 1,000 participants from all over the Inner Mongolian region this year. (Reuters/Jacky Chen) #
Members of an Honor Guard prepare for a welcome ceremony for Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on July 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
A woman hugs a terracotta warrior replica at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an, in central China's Shaanxi province, on July 30, 2013. Thousands of terracotta soldiers that were buried in the tomb of the Emperor Qin Shihuang, who ruled China between 221-210 B.C., are displayed in Xi'an. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Workers clean the exterior of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai, on September 2, 2013. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
An 18-meter tall rubber duck, lit with a spotlight at Beijing Garden Expo Park, on September 6, 2013. After touring 13 cities in 10 countries, the giant rubber duck designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman will float first at Beijing Garden Expo Park and then at the Summer Palace from September to October in Beijing. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
A cosplayer adjusts her wig during the China International Comics and Games Expo in Shanghai, on July 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) #
An aerial picture shows the view of Minxian after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit the county in Gansu province, on July 22, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Paramilitary policemen clear the debris of a house destroyed after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the border of Zogang County and Markam County in Qamdo Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, on August 13, 2013. The earthquake damaged 45,000 houses, as well as multiple highways, bridges and some water conservancy facilities. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Song Xuxia, 19, receives treatment at a hospital after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit Minxian county, Gansu province, on July 23, 2013. The death toll from two earthquakes in China's western Gansu province reached 95, with nearly 1,500 people injured, after around 51,800 buildings collapsed and tens of thousands more were badly damaged. Song's leg, waist and face were injured during the earthquake when she was stuck in a collapsed house. Fortunately the villagers heard her cry and managed to pull her out from the debris in time, according to local media. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A streak of lightning above the skyline of Shanghai's financial district of Pudong, on August 4, 2013. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, on September 1, 2013. Zhangjiajie National Forest park is a popular tourist destination in the Hunan province, home to striking sandstone and quartz cliffs and famously known for renaming a peak after the mountain formations inspired the fictional world of "Pandora" in James Cameron's film, "Avatar". (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) #
Professor Xie Yong works on an art installation of a beaver made out of plastic and around 300,000 needles, in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on July 23, 2013. The needles, according to Xie, represent the pain felt by animals when their fur is removed to produce clothing. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Zheng Meiju walks towards her partially demolished nail house in Rui'an, Zhejiang province, on July 17, 2013. Zhang, owner of the nail house, refused to move due to dissatisfaction of the compensation since the demolition project started last July making way for a new business plaza. She has been living in the house for nearly a year, even though the water and electricity supply were cut in early 2013, local media reported. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A man covers himself with algae on a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province, on July 23, 2013. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A laborer works on the rooftop of the Wanda Reign Wuhan Hotel, which is under construction in Wuhan, Hubei province, on August 27, 2013. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man, whose last name is Hou (left), climbs outside a window with a knife, as his mother (ceter) and a plainclothes policeman look on, in Anshan, Liaoning province, on August 26, 2013. Hou held his mother captive in his apartment before climbing out of the window and threatening to cut himself. After several hours, he was captured by policemen who managed to enter the house from another window with the help of his mother, local media reported. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A visitor looks at a school of golden trevally displayed at an aquarium in Shanghai, China, Friday, July 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) #
A view of the Tianducheng development in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on August 1, 2013. Tianducheng started construction in 2007 and was known as a knockoff of Paris with a scaled-replica of the Eiffel Tower, standing 108 meters tall, and Parisian houses. Although designed to accommodate at least ten thousand people, Tianducheng remains sparsely populated and is now considered as a "ghost town", according to local media. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
A farmer carrying a rake walks down a dirt road past a replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Tianducheng development in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
Four men lift a pig to stop it from running away after a van carrying 12 pigs overturned on a highway in Fuzhou, Fujian province, on August 5, 2013. One of the pigs died from the heat after the accident on Monday, as temperature in Fuzhou reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). (Reuters/Stringer) #
A child cools off in a fountain at People's Square in Shanghai, on August 7, 2013. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
People observe the Long March 2-F rocket loaded with Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft carrying Chinese astronauts Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping lift off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, on June 11, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A man uses his phone to scan a QR code sticker, which is used to share personal information, during a matchmaking event in Jinshan beach, south of Shanghai, on July 20, 2013. As couples celebrate the "Qixi" festival on Tuesday, the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day, millions of women faced stark choices in a society where traditional ideas about matrimonial hierarchy run up against huge economic and social changes sweeping the world's most populous country. There are plenty of men to go around among China's nearly 1.4 billion people but social status can conspire against single professional women, sometimes making it difficult to find a partner. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
A boy rides a bicycle in between home-made rice noodles in Changting county, Fujian province, on August 18, 2013. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A construction crane lift the last piece of steel during the topping out ceremony at the Shanghai Tower, in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, on August 3, 2013. The 632 meter (2,073 ft) high Shanghai Tower, which is scheduled to finish construction by the end of 2014, will be the tallest skyscraper in China and the second tallest in the world. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Competitors celebrate completing the Color Run at the Beijing International Garden Expo park, on August 10, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) #
Xu Haifeng poses at a construction site area where her house stood in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on August 20, 2013. When Xu's home was razed three years ago, she went to China's capital Beijing to complain about the city and county governments that ordered the demolition. Since then she says family members have been kidnapped at least 18 times, typically having black bags thrust over their heads before being taken to a hotel-turned-illegal jail in the eastern city of Wuxi and locked for weeks in a tiny, windowless room. Xu's story is shocking even in a country that has become used to tales of arbitrary and sometimes violent land expropriations. It illustrates how the stresses from the deep indebtedness of China's local governments extend beyond banks into the lives of ordinary Chinese, as hard-up authorities resort to any means they can in a desperate scramble for funds. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Children, holding toy guns, participate in an event to simulate military training at a children's activity center in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Muslims burn incense after attending Eid al-Fitr morning prayer session at the Niujie Mosque in Beijing, on August 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Chinese children look at a moon base exhibit in the Science and Technology Museum in Beijing, on August 30, 2013. China will send its first probe to land on the moon by the end of the year, space administrators said. Beijing sees the multi-billion-dollar space program as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images) #
A worker clears dead fish floating on the banks of the polluted Fuhe river in Wuhan, Hubei province, on September 3, 2013. (Reuters/China Daily) #
This picture taken on May 24, 2013 shows Wu Yuanhong, 42, a mentally ill Chinese man, eating his lunch in a cage, where he has been kept for more than a decade by his family, as his mother looks on at their home in Lijiachong village in Ruichang, Jiangxi province. Yuanhong, shown sitting on blankets in the narrow enclosure, his feet shackled with a heavy chain and wearing only a T-shirt and his underwear, was diagnosed as a schizophrenic at the age of 15 and in 2001 he beat a 13-year-old to death. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
A rescue worker throws a box of drinking water from a helicopter above a flooded area in Shantou, Guangdong province, on August 21, 2013. Flooding triggered by rainstorms ravaged the city for days, affecting 772,000 people across 11 townships, according to local media. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Xu Fei, who works as an employee at KFC, pose in front of a branche in the Hongkou district of Shanghai, on May 31, 2013. Xu earns 14 RMBs per hour ($US 2.28). (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
A privately built villa, surrounded by imitation rocks, on the rooftop of a 26-story residential block in Beijing, on August 13, 2013. A resident in the building spent more than six years to build the villa covering over 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet), according to local media. Residents in the building complained about the villa, fearing its weight could cause structural collapse. Local authorities responded, ordering the structure removed. (Reuters/Jason Lee) #
A tourist films with his camcorder as he walks down the long corridor, known as the "Chang Lang", adorned with thousands of paintings depicting landscapes, birds and flowers from Chinese literary classics at the Summer Palace in Beijing, on August 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
A tourist has her picture taken in front of a billboard featuring photos of the city skyline with a clear sky in Hong Kong, on on August 30, 2013. The billboard erected along the Avenue of Stars attracts tourists who find it more appealing to pose for photographs in front of it than the city's skyline on a cloudy or polluted day. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) #

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