On Saturday, we were stranded in Xi’an due to “the heaviest rain in six decades” to hit Beijing. In some places, rain was as high as 4 meters, and 37 people were killed. It is extremely fortuitous that I made a last-minute decision to cancel our overnight train tickets for plane tickets instead. Our flight was canceled after waiting at the airport for a few hours in Xi’an, which meant we were grounded for the night and avoided the crowd of 80,000 people stranded at Beijing airport and lack of transportation into the city. This was my first time experiencing a flight cancellation in China, so it was interesting to experience how they handled the situation. Many customers were really unhappy with the canceled flights, as you can see from the chaotic mass of people standing in front of the ticket counter. I only caught the last bit of people protesting, “Guo hang! 国航！” for Air China. For those wondering in case they find themselves in a similar situation, Air China booked us in a hotel in Xianyang, an hour south of the airport in the middle of nowhere. It was actually pretty nice, and they provided transportation to and from the hotel to the airport, as well as breakfast in the morning. Although at first they told us there were no available flights until July 24, we managed to get on a flight yesterday via standby (候补, a relatively uncommon concept in China, as most people make their flights) and came back to a wonderfully hot, blue-sky Beijing. All in all, it could have been worse, and I feel quite lucky I wasn’t stranded under water somewhere in Beijing on Saturday.
Outside my apartment in Beijing, residents of a neighboring building have taken to the streets to protest the management’s decision to shut off power and hot water for the day. Apparently there was a disagreement between the previous and current management that resulted in unpaid, leftover bills from the previous management. So the current management decided to retaliate by shutting off the power and hot water for today, and people are rightly upset. A few police cars have also blocked off the street. So far the protest seems relatively peaceful – no loud noise and mainly just people hanging out in the street.
Last Saturday, I attended a talk that featured Joy Chen, an Asian-American woman who was the former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles. It was interesting that she wrote a book for Chinese women, “Don’t marry before you’re 30,” that supposedly tells the modern Chinese woman to delay marriage until they can achieve happiness with themselves, success in their careers, and the self-confidence to pick the right mate. While a lot of her advice parallels an increasing trend we see in the United States, it’s still quite novel in China, where age 30 is still seen as a critical deadline for marriage. I found several critical flaws in her ideas and also her book. First, she failed to take into account these traditional Chinese cultural values when writing her book. So maybe it worked out for her to get married at age 38 after achieving incredible success as the Deputy Mayor of LA, but what about Chinese society, which views women past 30 as ‘old maids’ and less desirable? What about Chinese men who see successful, ladder-climbing women as ‘too aggressive’ and also undesirable? What about the fact that Chinese society view too successful women as 剩女 (sheng nu, or ‘leftover women’) because men do not want them? Second, she failed to conduct any of her research in China and did not speak to any Chinese women or men, instead relying on what she calls ‘science’ and ‘psychology’ to form her arguments. Third, she fails to recognize that her case is quite unique and is still not commonplace in the U.S. or China, so for her to generalize based on her experience is flawed. What I found the most interesting were the questions after her talk, where a few Chinese women spoke to these points. “I’m 39 and I’ve followed the exact same path you describe, and yet I can’t find my Mr. Right and my parents and friends only introduce me to men 50 or 60 years old …”
Under much public pressure to release data on fine particulate matter, the Beijing government has incorporated preliminary measurements in real-time. Of course, there is a lot to be desired – the PM 2.5 is labeled as “for research purposes,” and is only from one station in Chegongzhuang, which is in the Northwest corner of Beijing’s [...]
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has released a draft of a working paper that uses China’s own officially reported Air Pollution Index (API) and satellite data to evaluate air pollution control measures instituted before, during, and after the 2008 Olympics games in Beijing.
This post originally appeared on The City Fix. Beijing’s recent string of blue-sky days may be a more common sight to behold in 2015. This past week, the Chinese capital released the five-year “Beijing Municipal Clean Air Action Plan,” which aims to increase the number of blue-sky days (i.e. “good” or “excellent” air quality days on [...]
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