Two Important China Updates

1) I mentioned earlier today the new Chinese government white paper explaining its rationale for censoring the Internet.

I should have known that my favorite newspaper, the China Daily, would be all over the story. Lead item from today's front page. (Thanks to my Beijing friend J.G. for the copy, which I'd missed. White paper text here.)

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2) I mentioned yesterday the poignant -- so I then thought! -- scene of a guy in Beijing pedaling an enormous load of scrap paper but stopping to read a magazine he'd pulled from the waste heap. Adam Minter of Shanghai Scrap, who has written extensively about the Chinese scrap-recovery industry (among other topics), says this should have come as no surprise:

I've got news for you - China's scrap paper recyclers have been sampling their own wares for years! An anecdote for you:

As you well know - scrap paper, by volume, has been the highest-volume export from the US to China for years. Well, back in 2006 I wanted to get a good look at this phenomenon, and so I traveled to a port outside of Shenzhen that handled hundreds of containers of the stuff per day. There, I watched the local customs department open dozens containers, assess their value, and then seal them with locks. From there, the containers would be driven to paper mills. Anyway, I found it odd that the containers would be locked if they were being released to the actual importers of the material. So I asked why, and the answer I received is one that I'll always treasure: the local government wanted to be absolutely sure that the subversive foreign newspapers and magazines - English language, no less - didn't fall into the hands of the people, and contaminate their ways of thinking. I later double-checked this with a paper mill that receives this dangerous material, and they confirmed it.

Mind you, this was 2006, and the Chinese internet was quite robust at that point. Remains one of my favorite stories from the scrap trenches.

3) A bonus third update: I'm generally impressed by the safety of air travel in China, and will be writing more on this theme. But every so often... (from today's People's Daily)


Yes, that is (or appears to be) duct tape, or "aluminum tape," on a Kunming Airlines plane. Details (and possible explanation) here. Flight landed safely. Thanks to A.R. of Shanghai.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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