3 Videos About China

Or, two videos and an interesting photo.

1) This is why I love China: a video of a young woman who finds an innovative answer to the parking problems engendered by the nonstop increase in the number of cars. She just creates, out of nothing, a "legal" parking space for herself on a main road, complete with instant striping for the pavement and a fake big 'P' sign by the space she wants to use.

BjParking.png

The video is not embeddable, but if you start maybe 40 seconds in you'll get the idea, and probably want to watch for another minute or two. This is so much the spirit of China as I've experienced it -- for better and worse, a billion people figuring out their own little angles to get by. Yes, I do realize the drawbacks for rule-of-law, climate-of-trust, etc when people feel they have to make their own rules to survive. But just as a human matter, note how the people filming it can't stop laughing -- and the young woman's sly grin when she realizes someone's been watching all along.

2) You think you've got commuting problems? Here is how the lineup looked at 7:30 yesterday morning outside the Tiantongyuan station, on the (relatively new) Line 5 of the Beijing Metro. According to the Sinocism site, there was about a 40 minute wait just to get into the station to start the commute -- and this was a normal day.

SubwayJam.jpg

 


As Sinocism says about the photo:
Whatever you may think about infrastructure investment across China, you can't spend time in Beijing without realizing that the city's transportation infrastructure is woefully overcapacity, even after all of the 2008 Olympic upgrades. 20 million people have a lot of needs...
Americans keep hearing about the scale of China's infrastructure achievements; less often, about the scale of the challenges.

3) I have an article in the current issue about what is known, and not, about China's current political crackdown. It was based on the couple of months my wife and I spent there early this year. The Atlantic's new video channel is doing a series of conversations between Damien Ma and me on these and other China-related topics. The first installment is below.



That's all for now.

Except for: UPDATE. For something I definitely do not love about the Chinese government, check out this Bloomberg story on the longstanding Chinese ban on U.S. scholars who "dared" contribute to a book about Xinjiang.


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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.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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