China - then and now

25 July 2017

I have just returned from China, my twenty something visit. It is eight years since I was last there and the changes were staggering. The development of infrastructure and the people has been amazing. It made me think about what it was like when i first visited western China in the year 2000 and all of the times I have been since. The west was very much the backwater, and indeed still is to some extent. My time has been spent in Gansu and in Xinjiang, the latter the home of a range of ethnic minorities (Khazak, Uighur, Hui, Kyrgyz), a diverse array of cultures.


Productive goats, close to the Kazahk border in Yili

While Xinjiang is mostly flat, aside from the lovely Tian Shan mountains, Gansu is more dramatic with what could be the most eroded landscape on the planet, the Loess Plateau and my initial reason for working there. Whether you are flying over or driving through the vistas are gob smacking. There has been very considerable progress though with destocking and planting of perennial grasses, shrubs and trees and a substantial reduction in soil erosion.


"Layer cake", Gansu

There are however some things that have not changed, or are changing more slowly. Hot water is not always readily available and the little markets prevail despite the rise of the shopping mall. China is an incredible place with a very rich landscape and natural environment. The way in which the peoples interact with their landscape is particularly fascinating. Maybe you too should visit there some time?


The local market survives


Students awaiting their hot water refills


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