Tuesday, July 24, 2007

China Shakes the World
James Kynge

In China Shakes the World ( http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/ ), James Kynge narrates the tale of how ‘a hungry nation’ has risen. The book opens ‘on the flat alluvium beds’ of the Yangtze River, where parts of a steel mill from the heart of Ruhr “had been reconstructed exactly — to the last screw — as they had been in Germany. Altogether 2,50,000 tonnes of equipment had been shipped, along with 40 tonnes of documents that explained the intricacies of the reassembly process.”

From that steel story, the author moves on to a steal-y one. “As Chinese demand drove up the price of scrap metal to record levels, thieves almost everywhere had the same idea,” he narrates. “During the several weeks from mid February 2004… slowly at first but with mounting velocity, manhole covers started to disappear from roads and pavements all over the world… The first displacements were felt in Taiwan, the island just off China’s southeast coast. The next were in other neighbours, such as Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan… More than 150 covers disappeared during one month in Chicago. Scotland’s ‘great drain robbery’ saw more than a hundred vanish in a few days. In Montreal, Gloucester and Kuala Lumpur, unsuspecting pedestrians stumbled into holes.”

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