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CHANGING CURRENTS
REFLECTIONS
The MEDIUM, the MESSAGE and the SAUSAGE DOG
CYCLING TO XANADU
THE CHINESE DREAM
CHINESE NEW YEAR ADS
BEYOND THE WALL
ANYONE FOR TENNIS?
VIEWS FROM ABOARD THE CHINA EXPRESS:
1 Zola and Retail Marketing
2 Playing the Waiting Game
3 Beware the Ides of March
4 The county not on a map
5 Chinese Chess in Beijing
6 Build it and They'll Come
7 Riding the Water Dragon
8 The Best of Both Worlds
9 Storming the Great Wall
10 Welcome to the Wangba
11 The Catcher in the Rice
12 The Marriage Business
13 The Crouching Dragon
14 Counting the Numbers
15 A Century of Migration
16 Shooting for the Stars
17 Rise of Yorkshire Puds
18 Harry Potter in Beijing
19 Standing Out in China
20 Self-pandactualisation
21 Strolling on the Moon
22 Tea with the Brothers
23 Animated Guangzhou
24 Trouble on the Farms
25 Christmas in Haerbin
26 Dave pops into Tesco
27 A Breath of Fresh Air
28 The Boys from Brazil
29 Rolls-Royce on a roll
30 The Great Exhibition
31 Spreading the Word
32 On Top of the World
33 Moonlight Madness
34 Beijing's Wild West
35 Avatar vs Confucius
36 Brand Ambassadors
37 Inspiring Adventure
38 China's Sweet Spot
39 Spinning the Wheel
40 Winter Wonderland
41 The End of the Sky
42 Ticket to Ride High
43 Turning the Corner
44 Trouble in Toytown
45 Watch with Mother
46 Red-crowned Alert
47 In a Barbie World
48 Domestic Arrivals
49 Tale of Two Taxis
50 Land of Extremes
51 Of 'Mice' and Men
52 Tour of the South
53 Brooding Clouds?
54 The Nabang Test
55 Guanxi Building
56 Apple Blossoms
57 New Romantics
58 The Rose Seller
59 Rural Shanghai
60 Forbidden Fruit
61 Exotic Flavours
62 Picking up Pace
63 New Year, 2008
64 Shedding Tiers
65 Olympic Prince
66 London Calling
67 A Soulful Song
68 Paradise Lost?
69 Brandopolises
70 Red, red wine
71 Finding Nemo
72 Rogue Dealer
73 Juicy Carrots
74 Bad Air Days
75 Golden Week
76 Master Class
77 Noodle Wars
78 Yes We Can!
79 Mr Blue Sky
80 Keep Riding
81 Wise Words
82 Hair Today
83 Easy Rider
84 Aftershock
85 Bread vans
86 Pick a card
87 The 60th
88 Ox Tales
CHARTS
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2001 to 2007
BIRDS IN CHINA - PHOTOS
BIRDING in CHINA
PORTS of CALL
ABOUT & CONTACT

Playing the Waiting Game

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The indelible mark of change

Ms Xu, a young-looking 55 year old, was wearing a smart red coat with matching mittens.  She greeted me with a cheery hello, as if she knew me.  After checking behind me to make sure she wasn’t talking to someone else, I responded equally warmly.  “Are you cold?” she asked.  “Only my legs,” I replied. 

     

  “Do you live around here?” I asked.


  “All my life; and my parents before me; and my grandparents before them.”


  After a spot of mental arithmetic, I worked out that Ms Xu’s family had been here for at least a hundred years.


  “This place will soon be gone, so make sure you take lots of photos,” she said, glancing at the white-painted chai character behind her, which was ringed by a thick white circle for emphasis.  Chai, meaning “demolish”, was painted on every building – at least the ones that hadn’t already been hit with a sledgehammer. 

 

  “Thanks,” I said, “I will.”  “Where will you go to?”


  “No idea,” she said, “Nobody knows.”


  “When will you have to move?”


  “No idea, nobody knows.”


  “In the spring?”


  “Perhaps,” she said.


  “Before the Olympic games?”


  She gave this question a little more thought:

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Another "hutong", or lane, marked for demolition

  “Probably,” she said, “but it depends.”

 

  “Depends on what?”


  “An agreement of course.  An agreement with the authorities.  They want us to go soon.  But they haven’t told us where we will go, so we haven’t signed anything.” 


  The scale of the “Catch 22” impasse became clear when she told me that the authorities have told the community that they can’t tell them where they will go until they have signed something to the effect that they are happy to go.


  “How will it be sorted,” I asked.


  “We will be happy to go as long as we get an apartment that’s a good size and is not too far away.  And, of course, the cash settlement on top of that has to be reasonable.”


  I asked her how many people would be affected by the move.


  “There are more than a thousand people still living here,” she said. 


  “We hope we can all move to the same place, but it’s hard to say if that will be possible.”


  “Are you a reporter,” she asked.


  “No, I’m not.  I’m doing some research for a book I am planning to write about China; about Chinese young people in particular.”


  “Why are you talking to me then,” she joked, revealing a bright white smile.


  “Because you look so young, of course!”  “Are there many other young people here?”


  “Of course, but they are all inside, it’s far too cold today.”


  I thanked Ms Xu for her time, and continued walking up the hutong, into the face of the bitingly cold northerly wind. 

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"This place will soon be gone, so make sure you take lots of photos."