Monday, November 13, 2006

1 dog policy and other tit-bits

After another quick trip to the countryside with nice fresh air, I returned to Xi'an where visibility got less and less as we got closer to the city.. and actually the last couple of weeks have been quite good; it says something that even a pretty good day is still hazy on the horizon!

Today I was pleased to find a new cycle lane had been finished. They started it last week; taking out half the pavement in the process (well, they aren't going to sacrifice a lane of traffic are they?); meaning there was a row of trees between the cars and the cyclists, which helps for safety. At the time I commented that they were making this bike lane wider than usual -and it seemed this was because the tar-mac laying machine was a certain width so the lane was as wide as the machine -helps with speed and costs i am sure compared to using a smaller hand-held machine.

As I zoomed along today I realised that this extra wide bike lane was wide for a reason.. to allow cars to park in it! At one point 2 cars had managed to squeeze into it next to each other -leaving me with no option but walk my bike up onto the pavement and around the cars to carry one. Typical China; maybe the wide bike lane would help the cyclists.. but the opposite happens!

It reminds me that the government originally put quite a high tax on all cars; to reduce buying -and especially on small cars, otherwise everyone would buy cheap cars. What it meant was everyone just bought big expensive cars. Last year they cut the tax on small cars to encourage them instead of the big gaz-guzzling Audi and VWs.

Fresh of the press is news that Rabies has become a major health problem in China. Since in most cities dogs are supposed to be registered (and pay an annual tax) most people don't register them and therefore can't really take them to a Vet if a dog is ill.. and probably don't want to pay the vet's fees either; so dogs stay ill and then infect their owners! Beijing has always limited dogs to a certain size within a 10 mile radius of the city centre. There are 15m people; and apparently, now almost a million dogs! Well, what with the rabies and all, Beijing has now officially introduced a 1-dog policy. maximum.

Xi'an -well, its several years behind Beijing, but I'm expecting a huge influx of dogs soon... shame chinese people have no afliction for cats -they stay inside, only move to eat, and are tiny. This year is, of course, the year of the dog -poor animals, what irony. Well, at least I can return to Beijing and continue laughing at all the very weird cross-breeds that are chinese dogs.. tiny things, spotty things, mouse-like things. In fact, most barely look like dogs!

On another note -for those of you who don't know China's filthy rich do not come from the Mega cities; they come from the countryside, getting rich off corruption, running coal or steel mines or other factory operations. They then go and buy a fancy apartment in Beijing (the capital for their government parties), Shanghai (cause its posh and fancy) and... Xi'an. Because most of the coal mining, oil and other resource stuff is in north-west or middle china. Hence Beijing and Shanghai's property prices shooting through the roof.. and Xi'an now starting to appear like parts of beijing full of nice apartments -even though the incomes here are way low and there really is not that big a middle class yet. The good news, is that there is still lots of cheap restaurants near the city center -not the same as Beijing or Shanghai!

And finally... hopefully most readers will have heard of the Stern Report on the economics of climate change. Of course most of what the UK does.. and even the US is not going to make much difference to the world as China (and other developing countries) carry on as they are. Since there are so many more pressing issues here, climate change is not going to be on the agenda for a while. Even the 'energy efficiency' targets are no where near being met. Shame Stern didn't write his report in Chinese so the government hear could hear that in 30+ years time more than 200 million people will have to move east as their homes will be flooded courtesy of the melting himalayas; or that Shanghai's (current population of) 18m need to start learning how to swim.. or else there could be several more Great Walls being built...

2 Comments:

At 5:09 pm, Blogger Jenny H. said...

Thought you would like to know that 80% of the type of filthy rich you mentioned are from my city. Yes, we dig in coal mines, make shoes, lighters and buttons, and then go and heat up the real estate market with tons of small notes. Aren't we genius? Go Merchants of Wenzhou!

 
At 8:20 pm, Blogger Henry Richards said...

Hi Adam

Re: melting Himalayas etc, just wondered if you've read Michael Crichton's State of Fear. If yes - what do you think? If not, you might be interested.

Henry

 

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