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Je viens du Sud…

My neighbour doesn’t know but just the fact that he is growing plants on his rooftop makes me happy.

My neighbour's green rooftop. - When it's Spring in Shanghai. © Ruoxiang Chau, all rights reserved.

When it’s Spring in Shanghai. © Ruoxiang Chau, all rights reserved.

When it’s bright and sunny over Shanghai, like today, all I could think of is this song by Michel Sardou: “Je viens du Sud, et par tous les chemins j’y reviens…”  .

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And yet we still insist, by and large, in thinking that we can understand China by simply drawing on Western experience, looking at it through Western eyes, using Western concepts. If you want to know why we unerringly seem to get China wrong — our predictions about what’s going to happen to China are incorrect — this is the reason.”

“Unfortunately, I think, I have to say that I think attitude towards China is that of a kind of little Westerner mentality. It’s kind of arrogant. It’s arrogant in the sense that we think that we are best, and therefore we have the universal measure. And secondly, it’s ignorant. We refuse to really address the issue of difference.

You know, there’s a very interesting passage in a book by Paul Cohen, the American historian. And Paul Cohen argues that the West thinks of itself as probably the most cosmopolitan of all cultures. But it’s not. In many ways, it’s the most parochial, because for 200 years, the West has been so dominant in the world that it’s not really needed to understand other cultures, other civilisations. Because, at the end of the day, it could, if necessary by force, get its own way. Whereas those cultures — virtually the rest of the world, in fact, which have been in a far weaker position, vis-a-vis the West — have been thereby forced to understand the West, because of the West’s presence in those societies. And therefore, they are, as a result, more cosmopolitan in many ways than the West.

For 200 years, the world was essentially governed by a fragment of the human population. That’s what Europe and North America represented. The arrival of countries like China and India — between them 38 percent of the world’s population — and others like Indonesia and Brazil and so on, represent the most important single act of democratisation in the last 200 years. Civilisations and cultures, which had been ignored, which had no voice, which were not listened to, which were not known about, will have a different sort of representation in this world. As humanists, we must welcome, surely, this transformation, and we will have to learn about these civilisations.

52 min Documentary (long version).
Covering an area that is the size of France, the Loess Plateau is home to more than 50 million very poor farmers who have suffered centuries of severe soil erosion, leading to massive environmental degradation and poverty. The film documents a remarkable paradigm shift: the rebirth of a self-sustaining ecosystem in the dry and remote Loess Plateau region of China, and identifies why and how a World Bank/government joint project has completely changed the landscape of the region.

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China’s pollution problem, everyone’s problem: Peggy Liu at TED2014

TED Blog

TED2014_DD_DSC_3362_1920 Peggy Liu. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

“I am so happy to be here, because I can actually breathe the air,” says Peggy Liu, who lives in China, as she steps on the TED2014 stage. Her typical day begins not with checking the time, but by checking the air pollution levels on her phone to determine whether her children will need to wear face masks that day. In Brussels, Belgium, if the air quality index reaches 50, she says, traffic is stopped for the day. But in Shanghai, China, she says, it routinely goes to 500—the end of the scale—and beyond. 

“Pollution crosses borders. China’s problem is everyone’s problem,” says Liu. “What this means for all of us is that the decisions China makes in the next several years are going to affect the world for the next several thousand.”

China is urbanizing at an incredible pace. In 20 years, an estimated 350…

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Photojournalism: “China: Undercurrents” by Ian Teh.

“Several times Ian Teh made a 1000 km road trip through small cities, major industrial sites and neighboring corners of the Chinese border between Russia and North Korea in order to create this photo-journalistic series entitled China: Undercurrents.” via My Modern Met

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