Taking Flight From Polluted Chinese Cities

As Chinese cities continue to expand at an unprecedented rate, Mark McDonald writes that foreigners and locals alike have grown weary of  the urban grind. From The International Herald Tribune’s Rendezvous blog: Charlie Custer, a filmmaker and blogger, is back in the United States. Left China. Couldn’t take it any more. Bad air. Unsafe food. And there was a nasty-scary spat with a government journalist. Mark Kitto, a Welshman and a resident of China for 16 years, he’s going, too. “I won’t be rushing back either,” he says. “I have fallen out of love, woken from my China Dream.” The artist Ai Weiwei cannot leave. The authorities won’t let him. After his studio was demolished in Shanghai, he relocated to Beijing, which he calls “a city of violence.” “You will see migrants’ schools closed,” he said of Beijing in a Newsweek essay last year. “You will see hospitals where they give patients stitches — and when they find the patients don’t have any money, they pull the stitches out. It’s a city of violence. McDonald’s piece references a new interview with Ai Wei Wei, from Foreign Policy’s Cities Issue, in which the dissident artist tells Jonathan Landreth that he still views Beijing as a “constant nightmare”: No. Beijing’s greatest problem is that it never belongs to its people. Though it’s a city of more than 10 million, people living here are like people living in a hotel. There are some small changes in recent years, but not many. First of all, Beijing is a city of immigration. When it was liberated in 1949, the area of the city was equal to the area of construction built for the Beijing Olympics. Every year, the area of Beijing in 1949 has been added to the city again. In the past 10 to ...
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