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Notes on the Geography of China: Taiyuan

Taiyuan is another of those second-tier Chinese cities that are hardly known outside China despite having populations approaching or in excess of three million. What to expect? The best short answer is: more than you expect.

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China: Taiyuan picture 1

Aerial approach. Looks like a City of the Future, as envisioned early in the 20th century. Except that this is no artist's conception. That's the Fenhe flowing south toward its confluence, a couple of hundred miles downstream, with the Yellow River.

China: Taiyuan picture 2

Not only is this a place of high-rises, it's a place where high-rises grow in thickets or, in that ugly word, complexes. You can see at least three generations of housing here: pre-Revolutionary, Maoist, and recent.

China: Taiyuan picture 3

The older areas are a reminder of the poverty from which China is emerging.

China: Taiyuan picture 4

Another view, with the Longtan Park in the upper left.

China: Taiyuan picture 5

Fu Xi Street and Xin Jian Road. This corner is the city's aspirational focus.

China: Taiyuan picture 6

The magnetic attraction of luxury brands, for the moment at least foreign.

China: Taiyuan picture 7

The models are White.

China: Taiyuan picture 8

Surely the Chinese do not wish to be rich Whites, but the ad agency seems to have thought otherwise.

China: Taiyuan picture 9

Taiyuan is sometimes called a rust-belt city, and when it appears in Western news stories, the topic is usually related to coal. You'd never know it.

China: Taiyuan picture 10

Wealth, respect, and fun? Is that it, folks?

China: Taiyuan picture 11

For people who work themselves as hard as the Chinese, perhaps nothing is as alluring as time-wasting.

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