3 Videos About China

By James Fallows

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.


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/08/3-videos-about-china/243442/