English teachers in Nanning - Enlightenment - Changing Paradigms

It was my view some years back that, the English language teaching standard offered by westerners in Nanning was inadequate and sadly lacking - Good news, late 2010, my view is changing...
The overall standard of the English language teaching westerner in Nanning Guangxi China has, most definitely, improved these past four years, not necessarily because the original ones have changed in any way but most certainly because the newer entrants into this field have considerably more technical ability and educational nous...O.K.

I recently met up with several newcomers into China with the sole purpose of teaching English as a second language to the ever enthusiastic Chinese kids.
Sadly though, not teaching in Nanning but in other cities.
I was encouraged to find that not only were they very well qualified (all possessing teaching degrees), they also had that enthusiasm that is so important for teaching.

Perhaps we are now seeing a shift away from the previous 'Pretend Western English Teachers, teaching English in China for all the wrong reasons', to a younger, enthusiastic, dedicated, better qualified and overall, more competent influx.
China will, undoubtedly benefit from this.
I agree with Sir Ken Robinson when he said, "People do their best, when they do the thing they love, when they are in their element".

Sir Ken Robinson the creativity expert - How do we make change happen in education and how do we make it last?

The Window of the World 世界之窗 Shenzhen China

A marvellous educational Theme Park - Window of the World in China
Spend a day travelling all over the World.

The Window of the World (Chinese: 世界之窗; pinyin: Shìjiè zhī Chuāng; alternatively 小人国) is a theme park located in the western part of the city of Shenzhen in the People's Republic of China. It has about 130 reproductions of some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world squeezed into 48 hectares (480,000 square meters). The 108 meter (354 ft) tall Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline and the sight of the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal all in proximity to each other are all part of the appeal of this theme park.
Pictures and text above courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_of_the_World

The last time I was here was in 1999 and by all accounts things have much improved.
There is plenty to do and see both daytime and evening.
Daytime is spent visiting the various regions of the world each displaying iconic structures. Including Thai Royal Palace, North Korea and Japanese palaces, Eiffel Tower, Venice, Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Acropolis, Notre Dame, London Iron Bridge, The Russian Winter Palace, A Dutch Windmill, The Colosseum, Roman Holiday Square.
The Eiffel Tower is prominent from anywhere within the complex owing to it's height, built on a scale of 1:3 you are able to access the tower and climb to the top although additional charges apply.
In addition, there are also pyramids and the Sphinx, Niagara Falls all in miniature.
Various displays and shows throughout the year are also on show. These additional events are chargeable and you will need to in some cases book in advance.
In the summer holiday, the International Beer Festival is a big tourist attraction.
In December, Santa Claus welcomes the New Year.
There are also many user activities available, some chargeable, navigating the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, follow the ways of North American Indians and learn to hunt prey in the lush woods, traverse the primitive tropical forest in a cable car and an indoor piste to ski.
Transportation to Shenzhen Window of the World:
Starting from the railway station: take Tour Bus Line 1 (fare 2 yuan), Bus 101 (2 yuan fare).
From the Airport: take Bus 327 directly to the Window of the World
Other pass-by buses: 21, 26, 105, 113, 201, 204, 209, 210, 222, 223, 230, 232, 233, 234, 301, 310-315, or 311.
Shenzhen Metro : Take Line 1 to get off at “the Window of the World” station, then get out of the station from “I Exit” or “J Exit”.
From Guangzhou East Railway Station you exit at Lo Wu train station then take the subway straight to the The Window of the World. It takes around one hour.

About the same from Hong Kong( depending on immigration control)
Shenzhen Window of the World Open Time: 9:00 am-22: 30pm
Shenzhen Window of the World Tickets:
Full fare ticket: 140 yuan / person
Half fare ticket: only for children of 1.1-1.4 m in height, and senior people at an age of 65-69 years old, and third-class disabled veterans.
Free ticket: for children under 1.1 meters tall; senior people over 70 years old, and second-class or above disabled veterans.

The Window of the World 世界之窗 Shenzhen China

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Chao Chow and Swatow Railway - Early trains in China

The ChaoChow–Swatow Railway or "Chao-Shan" railway was a privately financed and constructed standard gauge railway which ran between Chao Chow (pinyin: Chaochou, 潮州) and Swatow (pinyin: Shantou, traditional Chinese: 汕頭, simplified Chinese: 汕头) in Guangdong Province between 1906 and 1939.It's also the first line entirely financed and managed by Chinese merchants.
The railway’s senior operations staff, including the drivers and guards, were all Japanese employees, with Chinese staff engaged on less important functions. This situation endured until the railway was eventually taken over by Chinese National Railways in the 1920s. The railway company imported three 2-6-2 tank locomotives from the American Locomotive Company (Brooks plant) and 24 carriages of corridor plan were manufactured in Japan.

The history of rail transport in China began with foreign assistance. Since then, it has made advances with domestic and foreign technology.

The Best Immigration Information Forum on the web - China related

This has just got to be the best Forum for anyone looking for information on immigration to and from China and with just about 5000 members and most online over 400. You will find what you are looking for.
And it's available - none of this members only nonsense.
U.S. Immigration for Chinese Loved Ones

Property Tax in China - Most likely in early 2011

PropertyWire: Govt official confirms that a property tax will be introduced in China  Friday, 05 November 2010
China may introduce a property tax as early as the first half of next year although first homes are expected to be exempt.
It is the latest move in a bid to cool the country’s raging real estate market and further interest rate rises are not being ruled out.

Business Week: China May Start Property Tax First Half 2011, Securities Says November 01, 2010, 9:34 PM EDT

Bloomberg: China May Unveil Property Tax in October to Reign Home Prices, Report Says
The new tax, which will be extended to include residential property, is more likely to be implemented at the start of next year, the Chinese-language newspaper said. The government currently imposes a tariff on business-use real estate and exempts individuals’ residential housing.

Here are two links to Property in China issues - In Chinese - Blood Housing in China



Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning

The Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning is designed for national sports, regional international sports games and some major individual international sporting events.
It is a multifunctional complex for sports, artistic performance, conventions, exhibitions, fitness and entertainment events.
It consists of a stadium, a gymnasium, a swimming and diving hall (Natatorium).
A modern tennis center.
Outside areas fully equipped for 5 a side football and training.
  • The complex has a main stadium that can hold 60,000 spectators.
  • An additional stadium that can hold 10000 spectators.
  • A swimming pool that has seating for 3000.
  • A tennis court that can accommodate 3000 seated spectators.
  • In addition it has a press center and other support facilities.
The main stadium is completed and has already hosted an international football match amongst other things.

Number of British residents in China - 47,000

Number of British residents in China - 47,000
Top 20 countries where British Nationals required the most consular assistance from 1 April

China Travel advice

British behaviour abroad - Foreign Office reports

China’s ‘zero tolerance’ policies lead to detention followed bysuch as gambling, drink driving, fighting or, most commonly, overstaying a visa (offenders are deported only after they have found money to pay for their tickets).

Am I gald to be back...I now want to design and build my own Hutong 胡同 Siheyuan 四合院 Yi Jin Si He Yuan‏

As many of you may know I have just returned from a tri yearly sabbatical, in this case, my return to the UK to see family and friends. I miss them all very much.
I won't mention the journey going or coming back, I will save those moments of joy or not for another occasion.
The highlight was, without doubt getting back to the UK, first time in 3 years and seeing what I had already had an inkling of, a change in the UK for the better.
When I left, all those years ago things were on a slippery slope, most newly arrived immigrants or migratory workers were encamped in the South east, in the surrounding area of the first port of entry in most cases, my neck of the woods.
Now though, pleasantly for them and somewhat to my surprise most had upped sticks and continued on their migratory path, to one or more of the northern ghetto's, no doubt their chosen final destination. I do hope they like it up there. The northerners being so warm, friendly and welcoming.
Back then when I left, the local authorities were more interested in recruiting even more incompetent bureaucratic officialdom into their already swollen ranks and at the same time, desperately trying to become the highest paid civil servants in the land, regardless of qualification or dare I say it, capability, rather than trying to fulfill their job remit of providing reliable, value for money services to the public.
The preoccupation with personal greed and self gratification may have succeeded for a while but it is now looking like it might be short lived and hopefully the useless will be removed along with the excess, with much haste.
The UK to me, this time, appeared greener, cleaner, more at peace with itself, less crowded and brighter on my return, certainly more so than when I left.
Perhaps it is only my perception that things have changed.
What with all these other good and bad influences and re-conditioning in the past 3 years in my current location. Far too numerous to catalogue here...coward that I am.
No, this trip back was much needed and profoundly appreciated. My overall outlook has once again changed...watch this space!

I liked Beijing, this I have no hesitation in saying.
On my return to China I had arranged to meet up with my wife in Beijing, she travelling up from Nanning and me coming in from the UK.
We had just over a week there and it was fabulous, most impressive.
Once again my view has changed dramatically, the last time I was there for any length of time was way back, the latter part of the last century.
Things have changed in Beijing and I don't just mean the property prices. Cleaner, greener, friendlier, more customer friendly and above all noticeably cheaper.
I don't mean cheaper than last century but, most things, other than property, cheaper than Nanning.
We had some great food dining out, good quality, good customer service and at a price as it appeared to me, very good value.
The hotel cost us 250 RMB a night...in Beijing!!!...probably a 3 star, the hotel staff were obliging and cheerful, something that is often sadly lacking in my chosen residential city.
The Subway was a delight, although at certain times, mostly unpredictable times, a very tight squeeze but at 2 RMB for any distance and any number of lines represents terrific value.
We obtained the prepaid subway and bus cards, putting 50 RMB on as credit, these made our journey's easier as no queuing for tickets.

Beijing has left me in a quandary though, I just love courtyard/quadrangle living...I now want to design and build my own Hutong 胡同 -  Siheyuan 四合院 - Yi Jin Si He Yuan or just a plain ol' living area surrounding an enclosed courtyard quadrangle, Mediterranean style maybe...we shall see...Yet another space to watch!.

All in all, Beijing a great place to visit, plenty to see in and around the city. We by no means exhausted our stay which means we will need to return to do more...Soon I hope.

Hutong 胡同
Siheyuan 四合院

See you soon on the Moon! say Chinese and German designers and engineers

The Moon
Our team name, “Selene” stems both from Greek mythology and Selene, the wife of the team's founder. We have assembled a talented and enthusiastic group of Chinese and German engineers and technicians who are intent upon winning the Google Lunar X Prize. Our goal is to land a remote-controlled lunar rover on the Moon which must then travel a minimum of 500 meters over the lunar surface, while at the same time, sending high-definition images and video as well as other data back to Earth.

Another purpose of this project is to promote greater co-operation between China and Germany, and to foster the exchange of ideas, a process well underway for many centuries.
We seek to dispel the myth that China's design and engineering prowess is merely the product of reverse engineering, too. There are many young, motivated engineers in both countries who are eager to demonstrate that they can succeed in this mission while contributing innovative high technology inventions and concepts to the broader community of space science and exploration as well as providing support to the ongoing humanitarian efforts to achieve better living conditions here on Earth.
more>>> http://www.seleneteam.com/

An ethnic Han Chinese is responsible for a remarkable Electronic Revolution - Memristor

We are now witnessing the next potential great leap forward in Electronic Computer technology - Memristors.
This is likely to revolutionise computers, robotics and not least, our daily lives.
It's a computer - But not as we know it, Jim.

In 1971, electrical engineering professor Leon Chua an ethnic Han Chinese proposed a theoretical basic electronics component called a memristor.
In 2008, Hewlett Packard brought the memristor out of theory and into the real world. And today, HP announced that they have finally proven that they can build devices that use memristors, instead of the transistors that enable all current computer chips.

Memristors could also help with a problem that continues to challenge the chip industry, continuing to pack more and more computational power into smaller and smaller spaces.

Currently, chip makers follow a path defined by Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors it is possible to squeeze in to a chip for a fixed cost doubles every two years.
This is currently achieved by producing transistors with ever smaller feature sizes. Current cutting edge chips have transistors with feature sizes as small as 22 nanometres (22 billionths of a metre).
But this miniaturisation cannot continue forever, experts say.
Memristors offer an alternative path.

The most advanced transistor technology today is based on minimum feature sizes of 30 to 40 nanometers — by contrast a biological virus is typically about 100 nanometers — and Dr. Williams said that H.P. now has working 3-nanometer memristors that can switch on and off in about a nanosecond, or a billionth of a second.
He said the company could have a competitor to flash memory in three years that would have a capacity of 20 gigabytes a square centimeter.


MARCH OF TIME - CHINA FIGHTS BACK - 1940 British Pathe Newsreel

"Time - The Weekly Newsmagazine presents a new kind of pictorial journalism."
Map of China showing its borders with Soviet Russia. US Government experts in Washington are compiling and collating statistics of lives lost and property destroyed in various countries during World War II to date. Burning buildings in China. Dead woman in rubble. Japanese soldiers. C/U of Japanese military officer or politician not recognised by this cataloguer. Aircraft flying over Chinese temple. Bombs being dropped on China seen from the aircraft which is dropping them. Bomb damage. Chinese children look up to the skies. Chungking. Burning buildings. Plumes of smoke. Boats on the harbour. Wounded man being led along. Small child dead amongst rubble. Lid taken off wooden coffin. Women and children in a food queue. Refugees. Japanese troops drive through street in tanks. Graphic map showing main cities affected by war. Newspaper production. Chinese army manoeuvres. Artillery. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and wife. Kung (?) sisters - wife of Kai-Shek, wife of China's Finance Minister and widow of the founder of the Chinese republic. Kai-Shek and his military leaders and statesmen inspect troops. Chinese soldiers in various manoeuvres and on the march. Cartoon image of Japanese troops surrendering. Japanese army. Civilians running for cover. Anti-Japanese cartoons.

Click to view the film.

The Expressways of China - Now and in the future

Expressways in China are a fairly recent addition to a complex network of roads. China's first expressway was built in 1988. Until 1993, very few expressways existed. One of the earliest expressways nationwide was the Jingshi Expressway between Beijing and Shijiazhuang in Hebei province 
This expressway now forms part of the Jingzhu Expressway, currently one of the longest expressways nationwide at over 2,000 km.


China Visa Overstay - A Cautionary Tale (2)

We can go tomorrow and sort it out, Don't worry, it'll be OK, she thinks for a moment, then quite calmly says - They might not be open tomorrow, It's Saturday...PART ONE HERE

The bad news - Not only are they closed Saturday but Sunday also.
I used to like weekends, not any more, not after this one.
Here's how it went...It's still Friday night.
It's difficult to explain all of my feelings at this time. I'm not a child, I'm pushing 60 but nonetheless, I'm feeling childishly helpless.
Part of me is embarrassed about my stupidity, part of me is angry at my stupidity, part of me is worried because of my stupidity.
What can we do?...(Notice how suddenly, it's WE)
I'm facing 48 hours of torment as an illegal alien, might be fined and/or banished for life.

After a while of being able to do nothing it's decided we must make sure the PSB office is closed all weekend - I'll phone the police station, my wife say's.
What now! why, which one ?...I'm panicking.
The one that issued your Temporary Residence papers, she once again, calmly states, I have the policewoman's phone number (Don't ask me why she has her phone number) you know, the police woman that registered you.
OK, do it.
Luckily, the policewoman answered and confirmed that the PSB office in Nanning was indeed closed at the weekends.
That's a positive, I'm thinking, at least we know it is closed.
She could not really offer any other real help only to say that, there is nothing the police can do at this time... !!!
What does she mean "at this time", I'm panicking again.
She said, go along first thing Monday and explain.
Explain what? - I'm stupid, careless, a tosser, a twat. OK, I am, I'll do it, anything to sort this out, make it go away.

After that, the weekend was a somewhat subdued time, I decided that Internet research was the order of the day, 'China Visa overstay' was duly entered into Google.

Here's the jist of what came up...500 RMB per day fine up to a top limit of 5000 RMB, then 10 days to exit, and/or deportation, and/or a big RED stamp on the passport 'OVERSTAYER'.
On the plus side, if no big red 'overstayer' stamp then re-entry should not pose too big a problem - I'm still panicking but thinking, if I can get there first thing Monday, that's 4 days, so maybe, with a little understanding only a 2000 RMB fine at worst...

To be continued...

Seeding clouds to fight drought in Guangxi - Watch the video

The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is one of the areas hard hit by drought. The local government is resorting to artificial rain to ease conditions.

Watch the video....http://english.cctv.com/program/newshour/20100325/102761.shtml

China Visa Overstay - A Cautionary Tale

I'm stupid
I'm careless
I'm a Tosser
I'm a Twat...
What can I say...your right, I'm all of these things.

On the plus side though, I now speak from experience...
I get a yearly visa.
Once a year I pop along to the PSB office here in Nanning and apply for a new one.
When I first arrived, all those years ago I only had a 30 day visa, then 3 months at a time, two times, then 6 months, two times, then yearly.

I think this is my second or third yearly one. One might argue, I'm an old hand at this caper.
This year 2010 was no different. In my mind, I had ingrained the renewal date, I'd even put the renewal date in Microsoft calender on the laptop, just to be safe.
And just like clockwork, up popped the reminder on the laptop, although I had not needed it to remind me as I was 'on the ball' and had already mentioned to my dear wife, it's that time again. Visa time.
This was Wednesday, have you checked your passport she said, No need. The date was set in stone. We have until next Wednesday or Thursday, We will go on Monday, I said with confidence.
All was well with the world and Thursday passed without incident, most of Friday also.
We got home early Friday, about 4pm. What are we doing now, I asked. Why don't we sort out the Visa papers for photocopying she said. Good idea.

As most already know, if married you need photocopies of marriage book in addition too photocopies of passport main page, last visa issued page, wife's family book, wife's ID card and the Police registration of Temporary residence paper. Along with all the originals, application form and a passport photo, this is what you need to take along to the PSB office. No problem.
Where is my passport, I ask, it's in the safe, you should know, you put it there, she said.
Found it, great, that's everything. Its only 5.30 what are we going to do now?
Don't know, she said while casually picking up my passport and flicking through the pages - Where is your last visa page?. It's here, a few pages back, see, don't know why they put it there.
Is this right? she said. What! I said, It expired yesterday, the valid until day...WAS YESTERDAY.
Don't wind me up, let me see... Oh! F---, F---, F---.
After about 10 minutes of all the usual...this can't be right, someones changed it, why didn't you tell me, has my passport been in the safe all the time, how could I be so stupid...all the usual trying to make some sense of my own stupidity, finally I said, What are we going to do? It always helps to involve others, in ones own stupidity.
It's 6 o'clock Friday night, my visa expired yesterday, Thursday, and I'm an illegal alien.
Don't worry she says in that lovely, we're in China voice, everything is possible.
We can go tomorrow and sort it out, Don't worry, it'll be OK, she thinks for a moment, then quite calmly says - They might not be open tomorrow, It's Saturday...
To be continued...

The Electric Bike in Nanning

The Electric Bike
Ours is just about 2 and a bit years old now.
It's reached that stage in life when just about anything causes it to break down and require some money spent on it.
You know the sort of thing, punctures (no end), inner tubes, tyres, ignition switches (lost count of how many), three chargers, brake cables (4, I think) and various other bits and bobs including numerous soldering repairs on wiring faults.
We reached a milestone today, out third battery, this one cost a cool 400 RMB.
I mustn't grumble, we have done around 1000 hours over 2 and a bit years, mostly  two up.
And it is convenient. Can't be bad.

China household registration or Hukou.

More than a dozen Chinese newspapers have published a joint editorial calling for the abolition of the household registration or "hukou".

Nanning, Hong Kong, the USA, the UK, the European Union and new camera


In these times of global financial crisis, with one country blaming another and various talk and accusations of protectionism, tariffs etc. it appears to me that the actual trading companies / businesses / manufactures of these countries are getting off rather lightly.


I want to buy a new camera, it's about time, my old one, I'm ashamed to say is over 10 years old. I wrote some time ago about it on the blog, a Canon Powershot A70.

It will still, with a sharp slap on it's side, take a good photo and a fair quality video but the time has come to let it rest in peace, quietly at the bottom of some dusty draw just like those old photographs.


Anyway, whilst drooling over the latest photo gadgetry and trying to make an informed decision as to whether or not to plunge in with the latest model (normally much more expensive) or go for an older version that is still in production and available (normally substantially cheaper) I was at this stage being drawn towards the prices.

What is it they say? If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it.


I realise Nanning would probably not be the cheapest place on the planet for a camera, although I think it should be, and I know that with all this talk of economic slow downs, recessions and the like, the camera should, one would think be a mite cheaper here than there.


Now here's the nub, it's a weird thing, after spending no end of hours researching pricing in the shops here in Nanning and the various other locations stated above via the internet, I have found that the cheapest place to buy a camera is in the USA - a like for like price comparison for any given model always came up with the good ol' USA coming out the cheapest, every time.


Nanning proved to be just about on par with the UK pricing structure.

Which I found quite astonishing.

Hong Kong, somewhere between the lowest (USA) and the UK. But worth noting, I could not access every shop in Hong Kong, so it figures that a trip in the Mong Kok area of Hong Kong, renowned for electrical gadgets would probably provide better prices.


So, are prices being fixed ?

Are the prices based on manufacturing cost, plus distribution, plus a profit, or are they based on - 'Let's see what we can get here'.


Either way, it does not explain why, a camera, that is made in China costs about the same in Nanning as it does in the UK - Tariffs, Taxes - in Nanning?

And why is the USA the cheapest?

Which leads me onto the role of the European Union in all of this - a help, or a hindrance?


I'm back to the UK later this year, via Hong Kong but I really want to buy a new camera now so it looks like Nanning will get the benefit of my small insignificant purchase.

Along with the manufacturer, of course.

Train travel in 21st century China and beyond - China Builds Sun Yat-Sen's Great National Rail Project Nanning included

This article appears in the January 29, 2010 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

by Mary Burdman

[A PDF version of this article in entirety is available here] Well worth a read

China is responding to the world economic crisis by building the most extensive high-speed national rail system on Earth. This project, which will make the high-speed lines the core of a fully integrated rail system, will transform its enormous economy, and contribute to making China a leader in bringing the world out of the current disaster. China is finally building the integrated, strategically planned, national network, proposed by its first great republican leader, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a century ago. Chinese leaders already foresee that this transport system will contribute to the economic expansion of other nations, especially Russia, the United States, and India.

To build the currently planned 16,000 km high-speed system, China is "leaping over" decades of technological development. Future development will require even more advanced technologies, especially, magnetic-levitation systems, now begin applied only on a minuscule scale, to meet world economic needs.

The immediate plan is to have an overall passenger and freight rail network of 110,000 km by 2012, from 86,000 now, Rail Minister Liu Zhijun announced in his annual report to the national rail conference on Jan. 7. This will grow to 120,000 km by 2020. This great project is being constructed at a rate only comparable to that achieved by the United States in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Since then, the U.S. has cannibalized its rail system to half of its 1930 total of over 400,000 km (250,000 miles)—by far the most extensive national rail system ever created. Europe, including Ukraine and Belarus, but not European Russia, now has just over 270,000 km of rail lines.

Transforming China

As China's leaders well know, despite rapid construction during the past decades and especially the past five years, the current rail system is utterly inadequate to meet the requirements for developing an economy of 1.3 billion people. Per capita, China has only 6 centimeters (!) of rail per person. At the same time, China's leaders are breaking with the disastrous "globalization order," by recognizing that a nationally directed rail network is the only transport system which can possibly function in the nation—air and auto transport are far too inefficient, too costly, and far less safe.

China's current great rail project will transform society as well as the economy, raising living standards across the nation, which is essential to lessen the severe income gap that divides the rural vast majority of the population, from the much better-off urban population. Increased rail transport will create a new level of national integration. China's high-speed passenger transport network will connect all provincial capitals and large cities with a population of over 500,000. The concept is to build an "8-hour transport circle," to bring every important city in China within eight hours' travel time to Beijing, or, where distances are still too great, another big city. This high-speed network will eventually be within accessible distance to 90% of the population. Some RMB2 trillion ($293 billion) has been allocated for already approved projects for the next decade. In the coming three years, 3.5 billion renminbi (RMB) of the stimulus, will be spent for rail investment, the China High-Speed Railway summit announced.


In September 2008, Zhang Shuguang, director of the transportation department of the Rail Ministry and deputy chief designer of the project, said that, by 2012, China will complete a high-speed rail network of 42 lines, comprising 13,000 km. Current plans are to expand this system rapidly, to 16,000 km—and according to latest reports, 20,000 km—by 2015. China's high-speed system will be at least as long as the entire rest of the world together by the end of 2012. There will be two types of tracks, one for the main corridors, where trains will travel at speeds of 350 km/h—the fastest in the world—and the rest for "slower" trains which run up to 200 km/h. Europe's high-speed network is just over 3,000 km, scheduled to triple, but only by 2020. Japan's "bullet train" is still using technology developed decades ago. Modern high-speed rail does not exist in the United States.

China is also becoming the world's leader in high-speed rail technology. It has imported from Germany, Japan, and France, but is now generating new technologies itself, putting them to work over unprecedented distances. On Dec. 27, the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed line was opened, the world's fastest and, by far, the longest, which tested at over 390 km/h, and is now carrying passengers at 312 km/h over almost 1,000 km. This was the first time ever that such speeds were able to be sustained over such a distance.


Last September, Zhang Shuguang said that a domestically developed train capable of reaching speeds up to 500 km/h will be produced by the end of 2010, China News Service reported. This train will also be able to run on regular track—at much lower speeds—making it possible to integrate cities not yet on the high-speed grid, into the new system, and greatly increasing transport efficiency.

China also has built the world's only commercial maglev train, in Shanghai, capable of running over 400 km/h, but it rarely reaches that speed due to the very short length of the track. Although no decision has been made, at present, on any significant extension, a new, lower-speed, 27 km maglev line, is now being built in Beijing.


The expanded freight transport will be especially important for western China, where the rail system remains far sparser than the rest of the country. China will extend railways to more than 50,000 km in its vast western regions by 2020, Yan Hexiang, deputy director of the development planning department of the Ministry of Railways, said Nov. 23. Currently, a 1,758 km railway between Lanzhou and Urumqi is under construction. Other projects include the new Chengdu-Guiyang, Chongqing-Guiyang, and Kunming-Nanning railways. When China began its "West Development Strategy" in 2000, the population was only 370 million, in over 70% of the country's total land area. Operating railways in the West were expanded 50% from 20,000 km in 2000 to nearly 30,000 km by 2008, but this is still just 36% of China's total.


The High-Speed Grid

The high-speed rail grid is a gigantic project. There will be eight trunk lines, four North-South and four East-West, and another 34 lines. Every important city in the eastern, western, and central regions will be included. Some 8,000 km of track are designed for train speeds of 350 km/h, and the rest will accommodate 250 km/h travel. The new system will be able to carry 7 billion passengers a year. Travel times will be cut in half or more: Wuhan-Guangzhou was cut from 10 to 3 hours; when the centerpiece Beijing-Guangzhou line opens in 2012, travel time will be cut from the current 20 hours to just eight.

Yan Hexiang, deputy director of the development planning department of the Ministry of Railways, announced the network Nov. 23.


In China, when you’re one-in-a-million, there are 1,300 other people just like you.

Bill Gates once said.
And here is the other thing to keep in mind. Think about all the hype, all the words, that have been written about China's economic development since 1979. It's a lot, right? What if I told you this: "It may be that we haven't seen anything yet."

Why do I say that? All the long-term investments that China has made over the last two decades are just blossoming and could really propel the Chinese economy into the 21st-century knowledge age, starting with its massive investment in infrastructure. Ten years ago, China had a lot bridges and roads to nowhere. Well, many of them are now connected. It is also on a crash program of building subways in major cities and high-speed trains to interconnect them. China also now has 400 million Internet users, and 200 million of them have broadband. Check into a motel in any major city and you'll have broadband access. America has about 80 million broadband users.

Now take all this infrastructure and mix it together with 27 million students in technical colleges and universities — the most in the world. With just the normal distribution of brains, that's going to bring a lot of brainpower to the market, or, as Bill Gates once said to me: "In China, when you're one-in-a-million, there are 1,300 other people just like you."


Shenzhen number 20 in the New York Times 31 places to go in 2010

Shenzhen is one of China's wealthiest cities, right up there with Shanghai and Beijing. Situated just a 45-minute train ride north of Hong Kong, the thriving city exemplifies China's breakneck transformation from peasant economy to capitalist giant. Its rapid rise can be traced back to 1979, when Deng Xiaoping selected the sleepy fishing port as a special economic zone. Money, bulldozers and cheap labor poured in. Dim sum joints and illicit massage parlors gave way to gleaming shopping malls and faceless skyscrapers. A city of 14 million sprang up seemingly overnight.

Shanghai Number 12 in the New York Times 31 places to go in 2010

In the run-up to the Expo, Shanghai seems to have taken this year's theme, "Better City, Better Life," to heart, spending tens of billions of dollars to upgrade the city. The riverfront Bund promenade is getting a makeover with parks and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, while the subway is being dramatically expanded — including several new stations serving the World Expo site. — Aric Chen

Guangxi: the Only Province in China to Achieve Increase in Export in 2009