China Roundup: New Film, Hazy Air, Tallest Building

By James Fallows

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.

SkyCity.jpg

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/china-roundup-new-film-hazy-air-tallest-building/259494/