The Summer of Living Dangerously

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The disasters, those of an environmental nature being only the most devastating, are, like the country's new prosperity, a consequence of the economic boom. And they can no longer be concealed behind the new palaces to consumption and sports. According to calculations by the World Bank, environmental pollution leads to the deaths of , people in China each year.

An estimated million Chinese no longer have access to clean drinking water. Three-quarters of the country's lakes and half of its ground water are considered contaminated.

Africa: The summer of living dangerously

Sixty major rivers are on the verge of running dry, and the country's rivers are being hopelessly polluted by industry and the growing volume of household refuse that comes with rising prosperity. Sixteen Chinese cities are among the top 20 of the world's most polluted. Beijing air contains six times as much particulate pollution as the air in New York.

The country relies on coal for 70 percent of its energy requirements. In , China burned 2. Its factories and power plans are pitifully inefficient.

The Summer of Living Dangerously

The Beijing leadership itself has calculated that Chinese industry uses seven times as much energy to produce its goods as do comparable factories in Japan. The fact that Beijing recognizes such problems but seems powerless to solve them makes it seem as if China's party and government is no longer in control of the spirits that Deng Xiaoping invoked 30 years ago, in , when the government first issued its edict of personal enrichment. In the year , now that China's one billion people has embarked on a brief, hurried march into a "socialist market economy," it seems that, for the first time, the peculiar Chinese model is in jeopardy, a model that combines dictatorship and capitalism and harnesses market forces to further the party's goals.

Oddly enough, this coincides with the Olympic Games, which Beijing had expected would serve as evidence of its radiant victory. The question on everyone's mind in the coming weeks will be whether the greatest show on earth will intensify or bring temporary reconciliation to the conflict between dictatorship and market economy, economics and politics. There is still widespread confidence in the government's ability to tackle problems, but it is coupled with the recognition that the challenges are enormous.

Sermon: The Summer of Living Dangerously

Still, even many of the regime's sharpest critics find it inconceivable that the entire system, the entire political superstructure, could eventually collapse. Anyone who has traveled through China in recent weeks, as the torch runners carry the Olympic flame to Beijing, has experienced a country that is on the verge of radical change once again.

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But today the momentum is no longer coming from the political leadership. Today it is Chinese society itself that is beginning to stir, a society that, beset by problems and energized by successes, is headed for a life dominated by new, and as yet unknown, coordinates. When Kent Chen, the managing director of Pan-Globle, a Shanghai-based mushroom exporter, pores over his books, it's obvious to him that there is a problem.

Chen is a slim, reserved man who knows his markets. The company's top-selling product is the shiitake, dried or fresh, a meaty mushroom with a brown cap and a taste often associated with Asian cuisine. Shortly after it was founded in , Pan-Globle rose to become China's biggest shiitake exporter, producing 2, tons a year, mostly for export to Japan.

But the Japanese imposed a ban on imports six months ago after formaldehyde and large concentrations of heavy metals were found in mushroom shipments from China. Mushroom exporters suddenly found themselves in the same boat as toy manufacturers, which have been battling the Made in China stigma for years. Inside the factory, dozens of workers sit around large tables in windowless rooms lit by fluorescent lights.

Finding cheap labor is no longer as easy as it was four or five years ago, says Chen. And while newly arriving workers were desperate in the past, says Chen, today they come to the factory filled with ideas. Some of them give notice after a short time, "because they are dissatisfied -- imagine that!

Chick flick thru and thru with some naivety of the genre. There are some issues there that squeeze a tear or two mainly relating to a lost baby and following marriage breakdown but a bit too romantic and sugary with the main character seemingly intelligent young woman in pursuit of an unexpected new career and romance but in so many ways such a silly goose. Her ex husband and a father of the lost baby comes back to town to patch things up and is such a saintly great man yet the silly goose doesn't seem to notice. That he's in love with her and is the best man for her is so obvious to the reader from almost his very first appearance yet the main character holds stubbornly onto her past and looks for love elsewhere.

The owner of a charming Edwardian manor sweeps her of her feet - that bit is boring and predictable and barely digestible. Also proves she's not that smart after all, instead of looking at a man's character she's swayed by the superficial. And yes, she's at times schoolgirl antic silly. I gave it a three stars because it will do for a light read and out of respect for the author's better novels. August 9, - Published on Amazon.

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I loved this book, I couldn't put it down and I didn't know which of the men she was going to end up with until right near the end. Go to Amazon.

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