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  1. "Beijing Welcomes You"
  2. The Journey
  3. Capital Appreciation: A Portrayal of Beijing Contains Home Truths - TIME

"Beijing Welcomes You"

The climate is not exactly welcoming. In winter, residents put up with thick snow and temperatures as low as C F. In summer, they bake in 40C F heat. But relatively high salaries, no tax and free accommodation are bringing people in. Just very ugly shopping malls surrounded by a barbed wire fence.

China/Beijing (Capital city of China) Part 31

But she has warmed to this place on the corridor into central Asia. Now more and more people are coming. By , we estimate that we can create 25, jobs. But the people here are very committed. The prospects are good.

The Journey

I want to stay and see it develop. Now it is over As the sleeper train clunks slowly out of Khorgos, passengers watch the evening sun dip below the dunes. Almost all are small-scale traders and shoppers, making the journey from the megamalls on the border to their home towns. The train trundles overnight to Almaty, once the capital of Kazakhstan.

From here, people and goods are sucked away in a spaghetti of directions. The architects of the New Silk Road are working to upgrade three main routes: north, through Russia; southwest through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran; and — most direct but complex of all — due west along a central corridor that passes for more than 1,km across the vast deserts of central Kazakhstan to the Caspian Sea port of Aktau and beyond.

During the Cold War, this Soviet-era port city was shrouded in military secrecy. Built by prisoners in the and 60s, it was initially little more than a barracks and a uranium mine. That legacy is still apparent in the garrison-like housing blocks in the centre, an MiG fighter plane that seems about to fly off from a marble plinth, and the grimly contaminated Lake Koshkar-Ata on the outskirts, where farmers take horses and camels to drink despite radiation hazard signs and a stream of stinking black effluent pouring from an industrial complex. On windy days, contaminated particles blow into the city, which is home to , people.

Over the past 30 years, Aktau has opened up and the focus has shifted to oil production.

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City planners want to clean up the lake and plant rows of trees to hold back the dust, but progress has been slow. Russian influence is still strong here, but Chinese companies have invested in oil fields and a bitumen plant, which supplies the needs of the growing number of Silk Road highway upgrades.

Capital Appreciation: A Portrayal of Beijing Contains Home Truths - TIME

The first consignment from Khorgos to Europe passed through earlier this year. It was a container of tomatoes, farmed in Xinjiang, and sent to a paste processing plant in Italy. Last month, there was another first when a consignment of cars passed through on a journey from Chongqing via Khorgos to Iran. It took just 14 days. Although it is the shortest distance across Eurasia, the central corridor of the Silk Road requires multi-modal shifts between trains and ships, and the bureaucracy of border checks in at least five countries. The old Soviet ferries which ply the Caspian are not made for modern container lorries.

There is no timetable. Both cargo and people can wait more than a week for passage, which takes another 20 to 40 hours depending on weather. The high expectations of China are shared by senior figures in business and politics in Tblisi. The scheme has been in limbo for most of the past 10 years, but she says the Belt and Road Initiative has nudged it close to reality. A new free-trade agreement with China came into force this year, and last month Bochorishvili signed a memorandum of understanding with a Hong Kong logistics firm.

Anaklia is currently little more than a village. Cows and pigs wander across the single-lane access road. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory n. Tom Scocca. Publisher: Riverhead Books , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title A definitive, and highly entertaining, account of contemporary Beijing, the undisputed capital of the twenty-first century. Buy New Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title.

Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Riverhead Books Beijing is the ultimate representation of China's political and cultural capital, of its might-and threat.

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  8. For so long, the city was closed off to the world, literally built around the Forbidden City, the icon of all that was ominous about China. But now, the country is eager to show off its new openness, its glory and magnanimity, and Beijing is its star. When Tom Scocca arrived in an American eager to see another culture-Beijing was looking toward welcoming the world to its Olympics four years later, and preparations were in full swing to create a renewed city.

    Scocca talked to the scientists tasked with changing the weather; interviewed designers and architects churning out projects; checked out the campaign to stop public spitting; documented the planting of trees, the rerouting of traffic, the demolition of the old city, and the construction of the new metropolis. Beijing Welcomes You is a glimpse into the future and an encounter with an urban place we do not yet fully comprehend, and the superpower it is essential we get to know better.