A big fat smoggy lie

This is a piece of research done by James:

Look at the following NASA satellite photos and accompanying text, noting the date the photograph was taken.
Then look at the following story, noting the statement by the… more »

Of Chandeliers and Dusty Corners

27th May 2007
My third book, The Pool of Unease, which comes out in August, has as its backdrop some of the less savoury aspects of modern China – rampant corruption, poverty and beggar gangs, a sense that criminal activity is on the rise as society changes fast and often chaotically.
&n… more »

Holiday Reading

May 16th
I’ve been on holiday – a week in Langkawi, where dolphins frolicked in the bay,  monkeys sat in the trees around the swimming pool, and a yard-long monitor lizard strolled casually across a path in front of me. The children were in heaven – actually they were m… more »

Singing in a Palace

15th April 2007
Last night I sang as part of the International Festival Chorus in the Forbidden City Concert Hall. For me, this is a huge privilege. I love to sing, but I’m not in the same class as many of the chorus members who are brilliant amateurs and professionals - practically the… more »

Who's Moving In?

We live in a residential development which was originally built to house expatriates but which has now become home to many wealthy Chinese.  We had a famous Chinese pop singer here for a while, and rumours of an actress. Mysteriously, several residents have cars with numberplates belongi… more »

The Spray Painted Mountain

20th March 2007
A ‘garish green’ paint job on a mountain in Yunnan Province has become an issue of nationwide interest and some controversy. Was this a misguided attempt at environmental greening by the Bureau of Agriculture and Forestry, or a local businessman’s attemp… more »

Smokestacks and Crows

March 13th 2007
Yesterday I went with the photographer, Lucy Cavender, out to the area around Shougang, Beijing’s vast Capital Iron and Steel Works. Part of my next book, The Pool of Unease, is set out there, and I wanted to go and take another look at the area I’d explored more t… more »

Two Sisters

March 6th 2007

Last week I spoke to two little girls begging in the evening outside a cafe which is frequented by foreigners. Six and seven years old, dressed in thick grubby clothes, they told me they were sisters. They had come to Beijing from rural Henan Province with their grandfather, they sai… more »

Smog by any other name

25th February
This truly is one for the smog blog. Smog has a new name in Beijing. Everyone used to call it wu, which means fog, and that used to send me a little crazy, because fog is a natural phenomenon, and it seemed to me that there was a government-sponsored brain-washing initiative at … more »