It’s the 61st Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (National Day or 国庆节). Partayyy! That’s what it was in Tiananmen Square. Cotton candy, corn on the cob, massive floral displays, and… multi-colored plastic devil horn headbands. I have yet to discover their significance. But in essence, the mood on the square tonight resembled that of our Fourth of July. It was unfortunately (or fortunately) not the security-ridden atmosphere that I’d previously conjured up in my mind. Perhaps last year when China rounded its sixth decade the mood was a bit more conflicted, but I doubt it. All the controversial censorship, arrests, and injustices that plague the foreign press coverage on China feel like bitter annoyances when you stare into the crisp, glistening characters on two giant flat screens that illuminate messages of technological success, economic progress and a harmonious society. There is no looming sense of dissatisfaction here but one of overwhelming pride. After all, tonight’s square wasn’t empty but bustling with a smiling crowd snapping photos of their kids posing with Chinese flags and peace signs. And in the end, what’s not to be proud of? All the bad aside, because every country has its dark side, China’s unprecedented growth in the last twenty years is not to be taken lightly. Recognizing the pressures experienced in the past from both within its borders and abroad we might make rational sense not only of China’s rapid economic development but also of its political system. Of course there are many problems left to tackle here, but every citizen deserves a day to honor and rejoice in the successes of the country they live in.
Welcome back, loyal readers! I’ve returned from a wonderful trip home to see family and a good three weeks on the mainland with Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays” on replay to help ease into the whole eight-hour workday. This post comes to you on a Friday morning, which is about the only day of the week that doesn’t feel Monday… and I like my job.
In light of the recent Beijing inversion, where a lack of wind, rain, snow, and other elements caused pollutants to climb to about 500 PM2.5, I’d like to put in a good word for Shenzhen. In fact, 29 of the 31 provinces in China suffered from poor air quality this past weekend, with Guangdong province fairing best of all (southern coast is where it’s AT). Check out the map below for an easy comparison (green/yellow= you’re in the clear, dark maroon= you’d be better off with a mask)
map source: http://www.infzm.com/content/85108
To be fair, Beijing’s poor air quality is due in part to its geographic location— it is located on the northern tip of the North China Plain, between the Xishan and Yanshan mountain ranges. Pollution is often caught by the mountains while rapid changes in air temperature/humidity can cause frequent atmospheric inversions.
With all this talk about poor air quality combined with my decision to start running outside again, I was ecstatic to come across an air-quality phone app that allows one to check the level of pollution in each Chinese city. While my coworkers chuckled at my excitement, informing me that they’ve had this app for years, I’ve all but lost amazement in the fact that I can check blue-skied Shenzhen’s air quality any time of the day: 28 PM10 baby. Take that, LA.