Are We Headed For China's Fat Years?


Chan Koonchung’s chilling science fiction novel The Fat Years — already an underground sensation in China — will be published in the U.S. January 2012. The book, first published in Hong Kong in 2009, is partly so chilling because it reveals a scenario that is all too plausible. Set in 2013, it takes place after a second financial crisis  (euros, anyone?) that all but destroys the Anglo-American economies and ushers in “China’s golden age of ascendancy.”

The nation that leads the world in The Fat Years is less bleakly dystopian than the Stalinist state portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984 or the biologically controlled society of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Yet it is supremely authoritarian — harassing and even executing the rare dissident and putting drugs in the water supply to inflate a sense of well-being among the masses.  read more »

Are 20th Century Models Relevant to 21st Century Urbanization?


Analysis of the state of the world’s cities 2010/2011 by UN-Habitat focused on the narrowing urban divide, with 227 million people moving out of slum conditions over the preceding decade.  While acknowledging uncertainty over cause and effect, the report notes that:  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Beijing


China's capital, Beijing, has long been one of the world's largest urban areas. Some reports placed its population at over 1 million in 1800, which would have made Beijing the largest urban area  in the world at that time. Later in the nineteenth century, Beijing dropped below 1 million population, as London, Paris and later New York rose to prominence. As late as 1953, Beijing had a population of fewer than 3 million. Since then the city’s population has  increased more than six times (Figure 1).  read more »

Inside The Sinosphere


Avis Tang, a cool, well-dressed software company executive, lives on the glossy frontier of China’s global expansion. From his perch amid tower blocks of Tianfu Software Park on the outskirts of the Sichuan capital of Chengdu, the 48-year-old graduate of Taiwan’s National Institute of the Arts directs a team of Chinese software engineers who are developing computer games  for his Beijing company, Perfect World Network Technology, for  the  Asian and world market.  read more »

From China’s Interior, A Step Back in Time, A Photo Essay


In the China of the 21th century, the one where all is about reckless growth, competition and the inevitable slide down into vicious consumerism of colossal proportions, there is still a big portion of it that has not caught up with the craze and preserves its most traditional qualities almost untouched.  read more »


India Conquers the World


From the exclusive Club Lounge on the 19th floor of Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental, Anish Lalvani gazes out at the city’s skyline, a dazzling array of glass and steel and vertical ambition. The Lalvani family has come a long way since the days when Anish’s paternal grandfather, Tirath Singh Lalvani, got his start in business by retailing medicines to King George VI’s soldiers in Karachi. Back then the city was a part of British colonial India—until independence arrived in 1947, and its inhabitants suddenly found themselves amid the bloody turmoil of the newborn Pakistan.  read more »

A Guide to China’s Rising Urban Areas


From a Rural to Urban Dispersion in the Middle Kingdom

China’s rise to economic prominence over the past 30 years has rested in large part to its rapid    urbanization. Prior to ‘reform and opening up’ that started in earnest during the 1970s, cities in China were viewed as pariahs by the party leadership. Millions of young urban dwellers were forced into the countryside to labor on farming communes during the Cultural Revolution. In stark contrast, today millions of rural migrants make their way to the city.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Shanghai


According to the results of the 2010 census, Shanghai's population was nearly 1,000,000 people more than had been projected by local authorities. The provincial level of jurisdiction grew from a population of 16.4 million in 2000 to 23.0 million in 2010. Shanghai is one of the world's fastest growing megacities (urban regions of more than 10 million population).  read more »

The Other China: Life on the Streets, A Photo Essay


We all know or have heard about the overwhelming development going on in China. Journalists enthuse and analysts throw magnificent statistics of what seems to be a miracle. Yet there is little discussion of the daily life of the common people, and their struggle. There are miracles aplenty in China, but the astounding figures only partially reflect the reality.  read more »

Asia’s New Landless Peasants?


Landless people have long sparked instability in Asia. From the days of the Qin dynasty (3rd century B.C.), through the huge Taiping rebellion in the mid-19th century, to the successful Communist revolutions in China and Vietnam and a nearly successful insurrection in Malaysia during the mid-20th, the property-less have historically risen against those in power.  read more »