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Michael Zhao

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Homepage: http://www.chinafile.com/

Chinese are known for recycling, and recycling everything. The industry is even responsible for making billionaires, like China’s “wastepaper queen” Zhang Yin.

Yet when factories recycle irresponsibly, the consequences can be dire. Reports of dozens of schools where children have fallen ill

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Twenty-six years ago, only 26 percent of the Chinese population lived in urban areas. Since then, China’s urbanization rate has risen to almost 56 percent, meaning hundreds of millions of people have packed themselves into the country’s 662 cities.

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The last time we peeked at Lei Hu’s photo blog, Lei was giving us a cheery look at a China that we rarely get to see: the countryside and its beauty. But there’s a dark side to country life in China, as well, and a new blog post from Lei explores some of the less romantic aspects of life outside the city.

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Chinese love their cars. With the emergence of a large middle class, and in spite of restrictions on daily car use in some cities, many Chinese households are choosing to keep a second and sometimes even a third automobile. The world’s most populous nation (currently at 1.38 billion people and climbing) has transformed itself from the Bicycle Kingdom of my youth into a People’s Republic of Cars.

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At least a few of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users now know that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg ran several miles in some of Beijing’s most notorious smog on Friday March 18 while he was in the city attending a conference. Famously sharing his experiences learning Mandarin, Zuckerberg has become a well-known figure in China despite the fact that his company’s website is officially blocked by China’s censors.

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The Oscars are a big deal among Chinese movie fans. So it was an especially big deal last month when Leonardo DiCaprio, whose fame in China is as big as the name of the film which held the box office crown there from 1997-2009—Titanic—became what locals call “The King of Film” by winning the Best Actor award for his role in The Revenant.

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A recent episode of “Approaching Science,” a CCTV documentary series, discussed the smog that’s been choking the mainland for the past few years. The show interviews scientists and laypeople to paint a comprehensive picture of the challenges that air pollution is creating for the Chinese as individuals and as a society. Scientists are rushing to understand the problem and come up with effective responses before it’s too late—from smog...

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Documentary filmmaker Sue Williams is finishing up her latest documentary about our beloved electronic gadgets, Death By Design. I was involved in the project and traveled with Williams to south China’s Guangdong province, to the the town of Guiyu, which is one of the world’s major centers of e-waste recycling. There, workers extract gold, silver, and other precious metals by burning and heating old motherboards in boiling tin....

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We start with a heartwarming note, which I recently heard about in a New Year’s greeting from Animals Asia, a NGO started by Jill Robinson, originally from the U.K., in Chengdu to rescue Asian bears from their torture-chamber-like cages throughout China’s bear bile farms.

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I think a big part of the reason why citizens of the world have not rallied to deal with climate change is the lack of a certain deadline that would warrant our immediate response to the grave consequences of our warming planet. There is no discussion of a specific hurricane or other specific imminent event. As a species we are very good at procrastinating.

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