The New Sputnik
Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China NYT 28/9/09.
So while America’s Republicans turned “climate change” into a four-letter word — J-O-K-E — China’s Communists also turned it into a four-letter word — J-O-B-S. NYT 21/9/2010
XinHua News 28/2/2012
China to reform prices in energy sector
BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- China will reform its energy and resource pricing system this year, but will time it to minimize impacts on consumer prices, the country's price regulator said Tuesday.
The move is aimed at letting the market play a role in helping users be more economical with their energy use and protect the environment.
"We will reform the pricing scheme, and launch it according to economic operation to minimize its overall effect," said Zhou Wangjun, deputy chief of the Price Department with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
There has long been criticism that reform of energy and resource pricing is wrongly based on global prices, undermining the buying power of domestic residents as their incomes are relatively low.
XinHua News 25/2/2012
China aims to rehabilitate 250,000 square km of eroded land
NANNING, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- China aims to rehabilitate 250,000 square km of eroded land to make it habitable again by 2015 by intensifying its efforts to deal with water loss and soil erosion, a senior official said Saturday.
The country also aims to build 40 million mu (2.67 million hectares) of agricultural terraces by 2015 to ensure food supplies for 30 million people, Chen Lei, minister of water resources, said at a meeting in Nanning, the capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
China has already rehabilitated 1.1 million square km of land, benefiting 150 million residents over the past 10 years.
"Although we have made much headway in controlling water and soil loss,we are still falling short of the country's targets," Chen said.
Nearly one-third of China's land is vulnerable to soil erosion, and the phenomenon is particularly severe in the country's western regions.
Governments at all levels should fully implement the Law on Water and Soil Conservation, allocate funds for reducing soil erosion and strike a balance between preserving the environment and promoting economic growth, Chen said.
People's Daily 25/2/2012
China's domestic solar market to expand
BEIJING - China is aiming to reduce the cost of domestic solar power and expand the domestic market to better develop the photovoltaic (PV) industry during the 12th Five-Year-Plan period (2011-15), said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Friday.
According to the industry plan announced by the ministry, the country will reduce the cost of solar power to 0.8 yuan (12 US cents) per kilowatt-hour by 2015 and 0.6 yuan per kWh by 2020 and increase production of solar panels.
Meanwhile, the plan said the government requires China's leading polysilicon manufacturers to reach annual production capacity of 50,000 tons by 2015. Solar panel makers will have to reach 5 gigawatts of annual production capacity by the same year.
"It is time for integration of the industry," said Wu Zhonghu, an expert at the China Energy Research Society. "The PV solar industry has a prosperous future, but at present, there are many obstacles, including high costs, shrinking overseas markets and a lack of related laws and regulations to supervise the industry."
China Daily 22/2/2012
New-energy firm to invest $100 million in US development
SHANGHAI - After a year largely spent in the United States developing products that use new sources of energy, Wanxiang America, the US subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang Group Corp, said it is looking toward making a large investment.
During Vice-President Xi Jinping's visit to the US last week, the company signed a $100 million-investment agreement with Smith Electric Vehicles Corp, a producer of all-electric commercial vehicles. The bulk of that - $75 million - is to go into a joint venture between Smith and Wanxiang to develop, manufacture and sell all-electric school buses and commercial vehicles in China, a large step in the company's plan to move into the new-energy business.
China Daily 11/2/2012
Boeing calls for Sino-US efforts on ETS
BEIJING - The United States should form a united front with China to combat European Union carbon-emission taxes, a senior executive with Boeing Co said on Friday.
"Without a doubt, the united front between China and the US on what action to take would be quite powerful," said Marc Allen, president of Boeing China, talking about the EU Emission Trading Scheme.
Under the scheme, which took effect on Jan 1, airlines must buy additional allowances for emissions beyond a set level or face fines. However, the charges have been opposed by a number of countries, including China and the US.
People's Daily 11/2/2012
China to invest heavily in water conservation
SHENYANG, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- China plans to spend 1.8 trillion yuan (286 billion U.S. dollars) on water conservation projects during the 2011-2015 period, a senior official said Friday.
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Graeme has been using ChinesePod since 2007
"I highly recommend ChinesePod, I haven't found any Online teaching programmes that come close."
Set in Zanzibar in 1910, it is the story of two people from different worlds falling in love. Susan immerses herself in Zanzibar. Asim falls in love with this woman from the nation that killed his wife. Susan is a spy. Asim is the chief advisor to the Sultan of Zanzibar. Germany and France are holding secret negotiations to form a Pan European alliance, which would isolate Britain and destroy her power. Susan and Asim are caught up in all this and their love is finally dashed on the cold, hard reality of international high politics.
'A maharaja’s ruby cast on a Persian carpet by the blackest of hands'
Their souls danced, honouring his promise.
The ancient dhow stirred in the soft morning breeze. Like a sleepy lion, it began to move through the water, snuffling about the other boats on the harbour; some scurrying, some at anchor, some darting before a brief gust of wind. The lateen sails a bustling panorama of blood-red and sun-bleached white.
Aft, the woman's eyes searched the skyline, drinking in the architecture of Stone Town, the heart of Zanzibar; its jagged, cluttered silhouette so familiar, so much a part of her soul.
Abruptly, her eyes ceased their restless searching, jagged by an invisible hook, transfixed by the grand buildings on the northern shore, Beit-al-Ajaib, the House of Wonders, Palace to the great Sultan of Zanzibar. The distinctive architecture captured in the tropical light: coconut white outlined by contrasting shadow plays of pepper black.
A smile, ever so slight, started to play on the edge of her mouth then disappeared. A memory that should have been fond instantly turned to sharp unbearable pain. Her eyes hardened and moved on.
Without warning the captain threw the rudder over. Stumbling, the woman barked her shin on a wooden box, a rough-hewn coffin. She recoiled, knocking over an untidy stack of cane baskets. Imprisoned in the baskets, rusty cockerels, their scruffy heads straining through the latticework, snapped at her, cried out to her; their raucous din overwhelming her, drowning her.
Dimly, through the fog of noise, the strident swearing of the sailors in Kiswahili seeped into her conscious. Understanding, she smiled mirthlessly.
The coffin had been carelessly stowed, a chore, rather than a labour of respect or love.
“Hello, who are you? I am Oliver, is Edward at home?”
The words were spoken by a tall, impeccably dressed young man as he rushed into Edward’s flat shaking off surplus water and calling for whisky while shoving his umbrella into a stand. It was a blustery, grey, bitterly cold February afternoon in the heart of London. He brushed a curl of soft auburn hair from his forehead and smiled charmingly.
Susan laughed, her hazel eyes dancing with the exhilaration of the new. “Yes, he is having a bath. I think he is trying to get warm. I’m Susan, Susan Carey, his sister.”
“Ahhh yes, from Australia. How do you do?” said Sir Oliver, smiling broadly and offering his hand. He noticed the laughter in her eyes, and the depth, particularly the depth, intensified by jade flecks that made them striking and alluring. “So, you have arrived, good trip I trust.”
“I am very well thank you, and yes, it was a good trip,” replied Susan.
He laughed and glanced at the sitting room, “whisky?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, please come in…….. that was silly of me, after all, it is your flat.”
Oliver smiled and gestured for Susan to lead the way. He followed her into the room, and after helping himself to a generous portion of whisky, walked over to the fire.
Shortly after, Edward, wrapped in a huge ruby-coloured dressing gown and wiping soap from his ear strode into the room. He was of similar age to Oliver, late twenties, well built, if slightly podgy, with dark auburn hair and a full moustache. Susan looked up and smiled to herself, she could see now where he had picked up some of his new mannerisms.
“Thought I could hear voices. I see you two have met, no need for introductions then.”
As he was speaking, Edward walked to the side table and grabbed a whisky decanter by the neck. He glanced at Oliver who nodded. A long finger snaked into one of the tumblers followed by the distinctive clink of crystal. He swept the decanter off the table and carried it to where Oliver was sitting. After pouring the whisky, he sank into a lounge chair and sipped from his glass, enjoying the warm glow as it spread through his body.
Suddenly he sat up exclaiming, “Sorry sis, would you like something to drink?”
“Kind of you to remember, but no thank you, and yes, Oliver has already inquired.”
Edward nodded and sank back into his lounge chair.
They chatted, tentatively at first, getting to know one another. Edward had not seen Susan for two years and was unsure how his sister would take his new relationship. Oliver was intrigued by Susan. An attractive, self-assured young lady of high intelligence with a degree was a rare find. And, as fate would have it, she was also a trained and experienced teacher. He suggested a picnic at Oxford, which was met with ready acquiescence. Arrangements were made for the following Sunday.
“I’ll see if the Rolls is available,” mused Oliver. “Must ring father, haven’t spoken to him in ages.”
Oliver, Sir Oliver Marchmaine, was an unaffected young man of intense intelligence who saw life as a great adventure to be lived to the full. He was also unyieldingly loyal to his country, England, which is why he had joined Military Intelligence on leaving Oxford.
It was 1910 and Europe was stirring. It was a time full of interest, intrigue and danger. The European chessboard was becoming increasingly complex, the moves more subtle. A time when an unexpected move or feint could have profound consequences.
Regaining her balance, the woman’s eyes were drawn, hesitantly at first, resisting back to Beit-al-Ajaib. She wondered if it was still the same. Still the same centre of power and intrigue that had been so much a part of her life all those years before; that had defined her life.
She remembered those first few moments, remembered standing in the foyer of the palace, .………… remembered the breathtakingly beautiful Persian tapestry ........
The sea breeze stirred her clothes. She smiled a little sadly, and in her mind the tapestry gently swayed. Two small apparitions ran giggling up the stairs: two small exquisitely rich burkas disappearing along the first floor landing. Childish squeals of mischief and joy left in the air.......
“Move to seaward, you accused of Allah! Move!”
Her thoughts were clawed back to the dhow, the captain crashing the tiller over to avoid another boat on the crowded harbour. The woman instinctively ducked her head to avoid the heavy boom as it swung over her, the rusty cockerels squawked their raucous indignation, their heads straining through the latticework, relentless.
The collision avoided, the dhow continued on its way. The cacophony dying down to the occasional command by the captain or the cry of a seagull.
The woman's thoughts returned to Beit-al-Ajaib
…………. laughing and giggling, girls of seven or eight. A door on the first floor slammed and all sounds of them disappeared. Silence. The woman smiled. She could see herself, a young woman, dressed plainly, unselfconsciously, her sexuality tantalisingly just out of reach, hidden beneath the thin veil of her clothing. She remembered standing alone in the foyer, looking around, perplexed. Asim came through a door to the left of the tapestry.
The woman started and looked around. Then, realising, was cold again. Alone again. Alone, rocking to and fro to the rythm of the sea. Alone, beside a rough-hewn coffin.