Beijing - The Archives

July 20, 2010

The Destruction of Old Beijing

They were supposed to stop doing this when the economy got better, when people had more time and luxury to protest and recognize that historical capital was just as important as money, when tourists streamed in and demonstrated how valuable the old parts of the city really were, and when the Olympics were over.

The sad truth of it all is - they have not stopped destroying the old city, and likely never will, at least as long as there is an old city to destroy. I remember hearing my local friends say that it was getting better when I was staying there in 2003 and 2004, that the government and the people were all looking at historical districts and old architecture differently. But, through my stay there, until 2007, I continued to see old neighborhoods get destroyed and re-built (in the most horrid ways) over and over again.

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January 1, 2011

A New (Beijing) Year

Well, here is the return of the Email Journal, since I'm back in China and I can't easily access any of my favorite pieces of social media. No Blogger, no Facebook, no Twitter. Also no Wiki'ing something, and even my own website is still blocked because I use address forwarding. From my brief experience, and from the analysis of some friends, it seems that censorship here has gotten bolder and more encompassing, while at the same time actually losing some of its effectiveness. The government wants to avoid social networks it can't control, and in their place have stemmed a number of China-specific social networks and micro-blogging sites that the government can exert control over. Yet on social networks of any kind, information has to be posted first to be blocked, and often those precious few minutes of being shared publicly is enough to send the information around the country. It's a cat and mouse game that's still playing out, but suffice it to say that the censorship annoys me and seems pretty pointless at the end of the day. Whatever though, the mice are still running around, and that means there's still hope for the future.

I'll get some time later to put this entry up on various blogs, but for now, I'm returning to the e-mail journal format. The memories!

Anyway, another trip to Beijing means its like exploring another brand new city. It never fails to amaze me how quickly China is changing, and how ridiculously wealthy cities like Beijing have become. Wealthy and expensive.........

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October 18, 2011

Reflections on the Past

My most recent trip to Beijing did not start out very auspiciously. I spent most of the 4 1/2 hour flight curled up in a fetal position on the plane, suffering from a low grade fever, alternately sweating and shivering. I imagined myself getting pulled aside at the airport and being quarantined. I wondered if I would have to pay any fees if I were quarantined, and thought that given how expensive hotels had gotten in Beijing that it might not be a bad thing to get a free place to stay in the airport, even it if it was to prevent me from transmitting some horrible infectious disease to the masses. In one of the more lucid moments of my haze, I thought about how irresponsible it had been for me to get on the plane with my fever. I had recently finished a book about SARS, that chronicled how the epidemic was spread by unsuspecting but irresponsible travelers who got on their flights despite feeling terrible. I was one of those irresponsible people. I could be responsible for infecting 1.3 billion people. They would trace the vector back to me, I would be the super-transmitter.

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