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China, Day 20: The Waking Giant

Lee Family Reunion 2006: China
A Tronkie Travellogue
Day 20: Beijing International Airport and Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant

"I fear we have awakened the sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve."
    -Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto (1884-1943), in 1941, of the United States of America, when asked about the Japanese navy's prospects after Pearl Harbor

"When China awakes the world will tremble."
    -Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), in 1809

China's long sleep and slow awakening

Though Napoleon never actually called China a sleeping giant, it hardly requires much imagination to see the world's most populous country (until circa 2015, by most projections) as such. The old country of my ancestors has been asleep for a long time. It has been hypnotized and the waking state deferred - by technological complacency, by opium, by forein invasion (the Eight-nation Alliance, Japan) and civil war, even by false dreams of a socialist utopia that time has proven to be one of the more totalitarian communist regimss.

These days are passing, however. Slowly but surely, you can see China rousing from a slumber of millenia, and it will most likely never be put to sleep or made apathetic again in its history as a nation. The people milling around on the street, going about their workaday lives, have a direction: outward. The introspective nature of the Chinese people is still there, but the drive to grow, to reclaim culture and political status, to expand the economic, demographic, even military bases of the country, and to increase the prestige of the nation, is accelerating. The efforts that these spawn - in manufacturing innovation, in China's first period of full industrialization and emphasis on quality, in its infrastructure development (especially transportation and communications), and in the mobilization of its people, are all converging.

All around its great cities, you can hear it in the bustle, and abovemost, you can see it in the endless building. Even in older developments, scaffolding and cranes are everywhere. You can see it in my casual photos, even indoors. I'd heard and read a lot about it, but you have to see it to believe it.

Photographs of the city



(Deleted comment)
Jul. 11th, 2006 12:42 pm (UTC)
China's endless building
Exactly. The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) went from a cinder block building in 1998 to releasing the draft sequence for the rice genome in May, 2002, a week after Syngenta. That's comparable to rolling out cars a couple of years after starting construction of your first plant.


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