China in 2 minutes a day
Top news and analysis delivered to your inbox

Photos

China in 2 minutes a day

Top news and analysis delivered to your inbox

Zhouzhuang water town

More than a few traditional canal-lined towns in China have nicknamed themselves the “Venice of the East,” though Zhouzhuang of eastern Jiangsu Province is among the most famous. Its wide network of waterways, well-preserved Ming and Qing dynasty buildings, and convenient location near Suzhou and Shanghai help it attract millions of tourists every year.
   photo by

Fruits of the sea

The red sun reflects off the oyster beds of Xiamen, in southeastern Fujian Province. Xiamen has long been a prosperous coastal city, known for its beautiful beaches and leisurely feel.
   photo by

The bridge at dusk

The many scenes of West Lake, Hangzhou, have captivated poets and patricians for centuries. This sight of a particular bridge, when viewed with lotus flowers blooming in the summer, was described as “windblown lotuses at Quyuan Gardens” (曲院风荷 qūyuàn fēnghé) by the Qianlong Emperor in the 18th century. Today, the same scenery attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists year-round.
   photo by

Traditional art in old town

An artist in Tianjin Old Town, a central district of the major city Tianjin, near Beijing, makes a New Year painting. The name refers to woodblock prints colored in customary Chinese style and often detailed to symbolize Chinese culture and well-wishes for the Lunar New Year.
   photo by

The old steam train

Fuxin, a smaller town in northeastern Liaoning Province, is known for its large number of steam trains. They ran regularly until mid-2016, at which point these relics of China’s early industrialization made their last runs shuttling coal and coal waste around the province.
   photo by

Waiting for the train to pass

Traffic comes to a stop in Fuxin, Liaoning Province, as one of China’s last steam trains shuttles coal and coal waste between mine and power plant. The train, pictured a few years ago, brought to mind China’s recent industrialization for many when it ran, but it was put out of commission in mid-2016.
   photo by

The coal fields of Shenmu

China burns about half the world’s coal, and its consumption is expected to continue growing for nearly a decade, despite government plans to crack down on pollution. To help meet the massive demand, a worker labors in Shenmu county of central Shaanxi Province.
   photo by

In the coal mine

Deep underneath the Qilian Mountains, on the border between Gansu and Qinghai Provinces, coal miners are at work. Despite efforts to cut back on pollution and carbon emissions, China remains heavily dependent on coal and is set to still be burning the fuel for over half its energy needs by the year 2020.
   photo by

Clearheaded in smoggy weather

Locals in Beijing practice tai chi (太极 tàijí), a popular traditional martial art known for promoting health and mental calmness. Even on days of bad air quality such as this, most public squares in Chinese cities have at least a few practitioners of a martial art like tai chi or groups of elderly people doing square dances.
   photo by

Scootering in the smog

Three women with matching coats and scooters stand out in a smoggy Beijing street scene. Air pollution typically reaches its yearly peak in the winter, as the city burns coal to stay warm, though it can vary dramatically from day to day.
   photo by