China Roundup: New Film, Hazy Air, Tallest Building

For today's roundup:

Film I mentioned last week how much I admired and recommend the documentary Last Train Home. The same company is about to begin screening another documentary called China Heavyweight. It opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York, and then on through a number of other engagements across the country, as listed here. The director, Yung Chang, will be on hand for live Q&A after the New York screenings tonight and tomorrow. ChinaHeavy2.jpg
I haven't seen the film, but apparently it concerns rural kids who think they can make it out of village life by becoming big-time boxers. Without having seen it, I am biased in favor of all documentaries of this sort, which convey some of the incredible diversity, chaos, and ambition of modern China. I'll look for it when it comes to DC.

Air I am remiss in not having said anything before Michael Zhao's powerful China Air Daily feature, at the Asia Society website, which portrays the extent of air pollution in big Chinese cities. Helpfully, he has an item about it today, on The Atlantic's site. As I mentioned through the years of living in China and in my China books, environmental pressures of all sorts really are the major threat to China's continued development. Please do check out his site as a new way of comprehending the problem.

Thumbnail image for ZhangAtShanghai.pngBuilding Five years ago in the Atlantic I wrote about Zhang Yue, "Chairman Zhang" of the Broad Air Conditioning company (远大), who had built a "dream town" in Hunan province with everything from a replica Palace of Versailles to a radically "green" concept for building and running his factories. He is also a figure in my new book (and the new Reuters magazine has a feature on him).

I happened to meet Zhang Yue four weeks ago at a conference in Shanghai. Here is how he looked as he spoke about his new theories of clean construction and the overall importance of environmentalism in China.

Zhang Yue and Broad have become famous in recent years largely through a YouTube video of a 30-story building going up in just 15 days. He says that his Broad Sustainable Building company is now ready to put up the highest building in the world, an 838-meter / 2,750-foot "Sky City" tower that will be built very quickly, will look something like what is shown below. You can read more about it here and here. I have learned not to rule anything out of consideration -- when it comes to Zhang Yue, his company, and Chinese hyperdevelopment in general.


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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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