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Popularity 7Viewed 3523 times 2014-5-11 12:40 |System category:News| overlooked, childhood, forever, friends, between

When friends asked why I was going to China in the early nineties, I said that I wanted to see the Yangtse River before the Three Gorges Dam changed it forever. It was a kind of symbol of the end of a dreamy view of the orient that had been in my mind since childhood. It conveniently overlooked the cost of millions of lives in getting to that point in time. The divide was between my cute view of China and the nineties realities - between the pandas, the qipao dolls, the dragons and the Qing-style imperial fashions and the emergence of a modern, powerful China out of the dust of the farms, cities and revolutions. I'll never forget my shock at crossing from Hong Kong into Shenzhen in 1993 and seeing the drop in shininess and efficiency. I saw the broken windows, the plastic bags flying around, the heaps of half-finished construction, the dusty roads and bamboo scaffolding holding up flyovers under construction. Twenty years on, I can see the perspective from that time to the way things develop even faster today. 

This week four new developments were announced in our local English news service that shocked me yet again with how fast China is still changing and all areas of life are fair game.

1.  There will now be five new RV locations built in the Xiamen district. I remember thinking China would never have caravans on the roads (or camping trips for that matter). Bzzz. Wrong. 

2.  The fourth new air terminal will be opening up at the end of this year. I only know currently one terminal that handles both domestic and international travel (always late because operating way beyond capacity), so I wondered where on earth were the first three. Some research found that the one I know and use is actually number three. Number two, I guess is emerging from the construction site in front of number three, but number four seems to be beating it to the opening day.  Number one? No idea. Most of all, an entirely huge new airport is already starting infrastructure development to be ready around 2017 or so - bigger than the current Beijing airport, largest in the country.   Can you imagine how big Beijing's new airport will have to be? There is going to be only ever more and more air travel.  Bzzz. Right, this was predicted by sci-fi.

3. 400 new taxis will be put on the road to offset the current difficulty in finding one; some are electric and some are for the disabled. The local owners had seemed to have the shortage in their control to keep their earnings up despite public frustration with the situation. In 2000, you only had to stand near a gutter and six taxis would swerve to your side within seconds. In those days taxi drivers were seen as high income earners because hardly anyone could drive and drivers could always get extra work. Bzzz. Outcome unknown. Is 400 enough to keep everyone happy and drive off the black cars?

4. Not local news, but China is considering building 13000km high speed rail link to the USA!!!??  Including under the Bering Strait for 200km!  Our longest undersea tunnel here is six km long and a bit mentally oppressive to go through; imagine being under the sea for 200km though at 350km per hour it's only a fraction of the journey taking two days. Bzzz. Unbelievable - but science fiction predicted this sort of world too. China will make it come true. They're paying for it.  

5.  6 freshmen at Fuzhou University paid 900RMB to redecorate their dorm room in bar style with chandelier and carpets. In 2000, some rural freshmen didn't have the money to buy good food, let alone redecorate!  Bzzz. Better lives all round. 

The real reason I always give for staying a long time in China is that the sheer vitality of the place is infectious. Our Australian headline news seems petty at times (which is so fortunate for the Lucky Country). I wanted to knowingly experience a historical event and I have and I still am. China still amazes me almost every week. I love my own country passionately, but China is addictive. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-5-11 15:36
I agree that China is addictive! On airports, of course, number of terminals matters but so too does the number of runways. You may know in London at Heathrow (a very busy international airport) there has been an ongoing debate on whether to build a third runway there. Guangzhou airport has the potential to be China's largest . It is not at current passenger volume by some way - but I recall when constructed that they put in 4 runways! That is planning ahead!  
Reply Report vivndodo 2014-5-11 18:09
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-5-12 10:18
we have highlighted it to the homepage.
Reply Report claudeckenni 2014-5-12 19:32
China is always changing. I have lived for almost two years now in China and whenever I go back to a place that I have visited months before, I can't recognise anything. Everything's changed in months!
Reply Report huaren2323 2014-5-13 09:07
I wonder if the mind set and orientation has kept up....
Reply Report teamkrejados 2014-5-13 10:07
I agree: China is addicting!
Reply Report 朱莎莎 2014-5-13 16:21
I live in Zhejiang province, and my home city has the same situation as Hangzhou. It's been so glad to see many changes taken place in the past several years, However, more issues emerged as well, like pollution and over-crowded

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    Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.

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