Today is Li Xiulan’s favorite day of the year — it’s even better than her birthday. It’s the day they turn the heat on. Winter weather has already arrived here, with temperatures dropping into the high 30s on some nights. But Li’s home in the 500-unit Flower Garden Apartments in a northern suburb of the capital has provided scant refuge from the growing chill.
Instead, Li and an estimated 200 million of China’s poor have been forced to shiver as they mark off the days until Nov. 15 arrives. That’s when municipal managers switch on boilers, radiators and immersion heaters, firing up central heating systems that are a throwback to the Communist-planned economy of the 1960s. [Full Text]
[Image: A worker sweeps up leaves at a Beijing park on a cool day, by Michael Reynolds from EPA.]