Dis­cov­er­ing gut drones, rid­ing with se­nior bik­ers and be­com­ing a

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China -

drink­ing water guided the gov­ern­ment to di­rect en­ter­prises to­ward green and in­no­va­tive sec­tors such as IoT.

I rode along with a club of biker grand­pas and a few grannies in Chongqing.

The im­proved roads in the no­to­ri­ously hilly city — where jour­neys from its cen­ter to its most-dif­fi­cultto-reach district used to take around 26 hours — mean the el­derly mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­asts (the old­est is 87) can reach the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s bor­der from down­town in four hours. The China Knights even ride their hogs to such des­ti­na­tions as Rus­sia, Laos and Nepal.

I also joined the bang­bang, who are van­ish­ing as Chongqing’s trans­porta­tion sec­tor im­proves. I was the youngest bang­bang that day — and per­haps for decades — since young peo­ple aren’t will­ing to do the hard work of these porters, who carry goods up­hill on bam­boo poles.

In­deed, I dis­cov­ered that bal­anc­ing loads dan­gling from both ends of the stick on my shoul­ders to be tricky — to the point that I seemed to dance down the street, ini­tially sway­ing back and forth as much as head­ing for­ward, as if I were drunk.

I was al­most run over by a ro­bot in a car fac­tory in Shang­hai, where I also rode in an in­tel­li­gent

Thirty years ago, the in­fra­struc­ture at Sai­hanba was un­der­de­vel­oped. No water or elec­tric­ity was sup­plied to their build­ing, but Zhao and his wife, Chen Xi­ul­ing, lived there with­out those es­sen­tials for about 10 months ev­ery year.

They main­tain a daily log. One of them scouts for fires ev­ery 15 min­utes — that’s 96 times a day

num­bers of peo­ple un­der­stand small groups of peo­ple.

A re­spon­si­ble an­thro­pol­o­gist will not pass judg­ment on what ways of liv­ing are “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”, but by thor­oughly ex­plor­ing what lies be­hind those ways of liv­ing, in­forms peo­ple about the so­cial struc­tures, his­tory and even power re­la­tions that un­der­pin them. ve­hi­cle. Au­to­ma­tion and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence are ad­vanc­ing in an au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try that had to import nearly all of its parts decades ago.

Most of these unan­tic­i­pated ex­pe­ri­ences are linked to in­no­va­tion, es­pe­cially tech­no­log­i­cal, in the rel­a­tively un­der­de­vel­oped cities in the cen­tral and west­ern parts of China that I vis­ited dur­ing my 35-day jour­ney.

I used a phone app that re­lies on big data to water a field of ki­wifruit in Shuicheng, Guizhou prov­ince.

To­po­graph­i­cally treach­er­ous, Guizhou is a telling spec­i­men of the un­ex­pected con­tours of the most-re­cent ad­vances of re­form and open­ing-up.

The prov­ince has long been one of the coun­try’s poor­est be­cause its karst land­scape has ob­structed devel­op­ment.

But Guizhou is trans­form­ing its ge­ol­ogy from a dis­ad­van­tage into an ad­van­tage by us­ing in­no­va­tion — namely, big data.

The area’s un­du­lat­ing terrain is seis­mi­cally sta­ble. And its el­e­va­tion means steady air tem­per­a­tures year-round.

This makes it ideal for stor­ing big data hard­ware, such as servers that are sen­si­tive to earth­quakes and changes in weather.

At one point, I won­dered why we’d stopped in front of a forested moun­tain­side along a road wrig­gling through Guizhou’s wilder­ness.

Turns out, a big data cen­ter op­er­ates in­side the moun­tain. The tem­per­a­tures in caves are es­pe­cially steady, and the prov­ince’s dis­solvedlime­stone land­scapes are nat­u­rally pocked with these sorts of cav­erns.

Some data cen­ters are lo­cated in man-made tun­nels bored be­tween two peaks. Guizhou’s data econ­omy grew by more than 37 per­cent last year, and its added value is ex­pected to ac­count for 30 per­cent of the prov­ince’s GDP by 2020.

The Yangtze ex­pe­di­tion of­fered a new per­spec­tive on many things I al­ready knew but hadn’t fully put to­gether — like ex­actly how the cities in the eco­nomic belt com­ple­ment one an­other through spe­cial­iza­tion and in­te­gra­tion to max­i­mize their ge­o­log­i­cal con­di­tions and ge­o­graph­i­cal po­si­tions.

The jour­ney of­fered unique per­spec­tives on how co­or­di­nated devel­op­ment within the con­text of re­form and open­ing-up has trans­formed the Yangtze — broad­cast by a gut drone, seen from in­side a self­driv­ing car or viewed from the back of a re­tiree’s mo­tor­cy­cle.

Con­tact the writer at erik_nils­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

and more than 28,000 times a year, when their va­ca­tion is taken into ac­count.

The sto­ries went on, and I was deeply moved. How did China grow so quickly in the past 40 years?

I be­lieve the suc­cess be­longs to peo­ple like Zhao and his wife, who have sac­ri­ficed so much to build China and have been will­ing to work in all con­di­tions for years. Their un­stint­ing ef­forts and de­vo­tion went into build­ing up their coun­try. I think they ex­em­plify why China’s growth has be­come a mir­a­cle.

In this film project I was keen to tell the story of these peo­ple — whether they were fa­ther and son, em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees, or some other so­cial class — through an an­thro­po­log­i­cal eye.

For ul­ti­mately, of course, we all be­long to one so­cial class: hu­man­ity. When we study and un­der­stand the world of oth­ers, we un­der­stand the bi­ases of our own cul­tures, in­deed our own bi­ases and il­lu­sions.

I be­lieve that this may have been the kind of thing the

English poet John Donne had in

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