Chongqing is a dense and smoky inland city, the heavy-industry, high-rise home to over 30 million people. It is to China what Chicago was to 20th-century America, or Manchester to 19th-century England, and it’s growing at an extraordinary rate. Every day a tide of 1,500 new people washes in to Chongqing. Every day an extra 1.5 million square feet of floor space is constructed for new residents. It’s a vast megalopolis, a megacity of the sort that will soon take over the world.
It was unfortunate timing. At the very moment David Cameron was pleasing his Indian audience by criticising Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism, security forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir were gunning down civilian protesters in the streets of Srinagar, the summer capital of the disputed state. It is not clear why Cameron failed to mention the worsening crisis in Kashmir — the violence and civilian deaths have been all over the Indian media — particularly after he was so forthright about the Gaza crisis during his trip to Turkey.
Pakistan’s President has provoked outrage by taking a tour of Europe with his son while thousands die in the floods at home. Isabel Villiers reportsPakistan’s worst monsoon rains continue, and thousands are now dead, many more trapped, surrounded by floods. The images on TV over here show vast expanses of putrid water where riverbanks have spilled, chasing families from their homes, swallowing crops, destroying livelihoods.
On his vast salary, Peter Salmon could buy Wigan, says Rod Liddle. But he and the rest of the corporation’s managerial elite will not be abandoning their cosy London lives any time soonDo any senior BBC executives wish to move to Salford, as is being urged upon the corporation’s exponentially less well paid staff, i.e. the ones who make the programmes you watch or hear?Peter Salmon is the latest exec to announce that he would rather hack off his own face than move his family anywhere remotely near the north.
Arcade Fire’s third album The Suburbs is in a long, glorious tradition of pop lyricism inspired by everyday life, writes Christopher HowseArcade Fire’s first album Funeral was not about a funeral. But, goodness, when we saw Régine Chassagne hammering away at her keyboard in red elbow-gloves with her husband Win Butler singing one of its tracks, ‘Power Out’, on Jools Holland’s show in 2005, we sat up and knew something had changed.
The marvels of French rail travel are a myth, says Ross Clark. Travelling by TGV is a rip-off — and the customer service is appallingWhich Ryanair passenger, left fuming by lousy service and lashed by Michael O’Leary’s tongue, hasn’t opined that, if only they had more money and a bit of extra time, they could glide to their holiday destination on a French TGV? Why do we insist on subjecting ourselves to the torture of budget airlines when down there, at ground level, we could be travelling on the fastest and most envied railway system in the world and one that is, according to the marketing bumf, ‘high-speed and hassle-free’?I’ll give you a good reason: because the customer service on French Railways (SNCF) is no better than on Ryanair.
In a tiny flat in Peking I heard a 105-year-old Chinese man explain how he was responsible for the capital of China being called Beijing. The centenarian, Mr Zhou Youguang, was the founder of Pinyin, the system of phonetic transliteration for all the Chinese characters. It might be argued that he is one of the most influential men of our age, for he has made it possible for foreigners to speak Mandarin without writing the characters and dramatically improved the literacy rate of the Chinese population.