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05.28.14

‘Staying’—An Excerpt from ‘People’s Republic of Amnesia’

LOUISA LIM

Zhang Ming has become used to his appearance startling small children. Skeletally thin, with cheeks sunk deep into his face, he walked gingerly across the cream-colored hotel lobby as if his limbs were made of glass. On his forehead were two large, perfectly circular purple-red bruises, one above each eye. “Kids often think I have four eyes,” he said with a puckish grin. Indeed, the unexpected visual symmetry of the garish circles was so discombobulating that several times during our long conversations, I found myself addressing...

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04.09.14

Sunflower Protestors Open Up

CHIEN-MIN CHUNG

On March 18 some 200 Taiwanese, mostly college students, stormed the offices of Taiwan’s legislature, beginning a protest over a proposed trade agreement between the self-governed island and mainland China, which considers it a “renegade province.” The deal’s advocates, including Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou who favors closer ties with the mainland, say it will boost trade and create jobs. But the protestors, who have remained in place for three weeks, their ranks swelling to as many as 500,000 on March 30, say the deal...

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Postcard

05.15.13

When You Grow Up

PETER HESSLER

Little Lu, Little Zhang, and Little Liu waited for me at the end of the bridge. They were ten, twelve, and fourteen years old, respectively, and they had come from the same village in northern Sichuan Province. They said that they had dropped out of school and migrated to the...

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07.02.13

Rejuvenation (复兴)

ORVILLE SCHELL & JOHN DELURY

If any of the makers of modern China who agonized over their country’s enfeebled state and dreamed of better times during the past century and a half could have visited Beijing’s Pangu Plaza today, they would hardly believe their eyes. Pangu’s preening thirty-nine-story...

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08.08.13

Portraits of the Faceless

KATHARINA HESSE & DAVID M. BARREDA

Nine years ago, photographer Katharina Hesse began to make portraits of North Korean defectors. To protect their identities she asked only that they “give something” of themselves to the photographs. Her subjects bury their faces in their hands, or slip them beneath the...

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09.25.13

The Strangers

JAMES PALMER

In the winter of 2009, I was spending my weekends in the northeast Chinese city of Tangshan, and eating most of my food from the far-western province of Xinjiang. Like many minorities, the Uighur, the native people of Xinjiang, have made their chief impact on mainstream culture through cuisine. I have always favored their ubiquitous restaurants when traveling.But there was something unfamiliar about the place I usually ate at in Tangshan; the waiters were young children. Two solemn little girls of about eight,...

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Postcard

10.30.12

Wenzhou’s Italian Uncles

ILARIA MARIA SALA

0039 Ristorante Italia sits in the middle of West Jiangbin Street, one of many long and large stretches of concrete that cross Wenzhou east to west, parallel to the Oujiang River, running next to some of the city’s visible wealth—in the form of glitzy malls—and its...

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10.19.12

Desperately Seeking City

MICHAEL MEYER

At the world’s only International Sister City Museum, located in far northeast China, a guide leads a group of Harbin middle school students past displays for each of their hometown’s twenty-seven “twins.” “Our government’s friendship with these cities promotes peace...

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09.17.12

The North Peak

IAN JOHNSON

The “voluntary” insurance at the entrance had cost just two yuan, about thirty-five cents, but I had been fleeced all the way from Beijing and somehow this was the final straw. Why did everything have to be so crass and commercialized? I whined to myself. I knew the answers...

Postcard

06.06.12

The Lesser Wall

MICHAEL MEYER

There is no such place as Manchuria, but the word still resonates like a bell struck a century before. The region is now more prosaically called dongbei—the northeast—yet its contemporary toponyms sing of its imperial past, when it was the homeland of the Manchu, China’s...