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This was brought to my attention from a friend back home.  Pretty scary stuff…

“Right now, the Chinese government is in the midst of a massive security overhaul,” writes Greg Guenthner, with a unique opportunity. “When the dust clears, the sprawling city of Shenzhen will contain more than 2 million closed-circuit television cameras. That’s double the number of cameras lining the streets and shops of London.

“Make no mistake about it — Big Brother is watching the Chinese every moment of every day.

“This industrial hub of Shenzhen is not only home to millions of residents — it’s also teeming with high-tech surveillance equipment. As part of a project that began a couple of years before the Beijing Olympic Games, the government installed about 200,000 surveillance cameras throughout the city, according to journalist Naomi Klein.

“‘China today, epitomized by Shenzhen’s transition from mud to megacity in 30 years, represents a new way to organize society,’ Klein writes. ‘Sometimes called “market Stalinism,” it is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarian communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.’

“The surveillance industry in China is booming,” Greg continues. “It will be a $43 billion industry by next year, growing 20% annually for the next two years, according to the Chinese Security and Protection Agency. This robust growth won’t happen by itself. China’s ruling political party and big business will be supplying the cash to expand surveillance and security measures in every city and town in the country.

“Whatever bumps or growing pains the Chinese economy will face over the next several years, it is all but certain that the current expansion of the security state will continue unabated.

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16 October 2009

Blog Action day is a day when all bloggers can help bring awareness to a particular global issue.  This year the issue is Global Warming.  Here’s China’s version:

If they don’t get you because you are different, then they will get you with coal.  Blackened lungs.  Ash covers everything, settles under the TV, the desk, fades pictures of family on the wall.  It pours out of vents and heaters, lines the road, sticks to the bottom of our shoes, our bikes.  The wind picks up.  We don’t even know if it’s going to rain, if the sun is out to warm us.  There’s no such thing as London Fog, only industrial ash that burns, coats, sticks and refuses to be wiped up.

Littering is thought nothing of here, the streets lined with plastic bags and abandoned wrappers.  Everything is made to be temporary.  On our first week here we rejoiced at having a tea house a few steps from our front door, a small shop to get ice-cream after dinner.  At the end of that week we watched the entire complex be torn down and only a concrete floor to remain in its place.  Most things that the average person can afford are cheap and cheaply made, creating a mentality of, “if it breaks, throw it out, buy a new one.”  Hence a build up of discarded material.

I hope this country someday soon will reckon with itself, if not for humanitarian purposes then for environmental.

First time in the Yellow Sea

They wanted it to say "free range." Woops!

They wanted it to say "free range." Woops!

Harvest in Qufu

4 October 2009

Weihei.

The ocean changes everything.  Mentality, spirit, the air…I can breathe here, the sky is blue here…  The onshore breeze from the Yellow Sea moves through the streets of Weihei removing a layer of pollution, which removes a layer of dirt on the washcloth and, I assume, my lungs.

We are some of the few swimmers here.  The locals don’t swim–most of them never learned how.  Two men in front of me, dressed in all navy blue, wrestle each other into the red sand.  Some have fishing poles and a couple sit by the waters edge scaling and gutting small fish.  There is hardly a frown here.  Families walk the beach with umbrellas to block the sun.  Mother and child are hand in hand, older siblings off wading in the water, their pants rolled to show the scars of mosquitoes past.  They throw the leafy seaweed at parents and into the waves. A heavy man, most likely drunk, walked past and yelled in our direction–our pile of sunbathing bodies, soaking in relaxation we have longed for, a pile of half-naked Meagwos (Americans) in the heaven that only the beach can offer.  He gawked at us.  He stripped down to his red underwear and marched into the water.  The pile of Meagwos erupted in laughter, especially when instead of swimming, he splashed himself, his fat belly with the salty water.  Look who’s gawking now?

30 September 2009

Jinan.

On the road again…Ready for adventure and something different from safe Qufu life.

How strange to find oneself in the middle of a large city.  One could easily get lost, even if they knew the language, among the endless numbers of people, the bright lights and dark alleys, the high-rises outlined in color-changing neon.  Here I am in a strange room, in a strange bed with peeling wall paper around me, the muffled sounds of the hubub below.  I look down on Jinan, peer into windows an see couples embracing, lonely individuals watching television and children dressing for bed, families cleaning up after a meal.  They exist in the way they are allowed to.  Here I am in the middle of it.  Frequently in travel, I am not quite sure how I fit into their lives or how they fit into mine, if the reason is more than just to confuse me further.  It is apparent to all who know me that travel is a passion, however if I continue to persist at it I must be ready to face some questions I never thought I would ever ask–questions I’m not sure how to phrase–questions about the defiance of space and time, family, friend and foe, how we come to have significance in a world of so many…

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