National Geographic Magazine has a special issue devoted to China, which editors describe as, “a map to help readers navigate the terrain of exuberance and anxiety that is China today.” It includes several articles about the rising middle class, a village trying to join the 21st century, Olympics architecture, as well as an interactive feature on the Yellow River, and photographs by George Steinmetz and Fritz Hoffman. In the Editor’s Note, Chris Johns writes about a trip to Beijing in 1985:
It’s 8:30; the streets are dark and deserted. The few cars on the road aren’t using their headlights, I’m told, because the drivers don’t want to burn out the bulbs.
Twenty-two years later I’m in front of the Beijing Hotel at 8:30 at night. The driver of a sleek new Audi taxi pulls up with headlights blazing; he doesn’t seem concerned about burning out a bulb. The city pulses with life. It’s washed in light and jammed with traffic. An attractive Chinese woman approaches a number of men, then comes to me, asking if I need a massage. I don’t need a massage; I need a map—something to help me understand the cataclysmic changes of the past few decades.