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s same government is also fond of reaching for the familiar tools in its workshop, relying heavily on technological ¡®solutions¡¯ and huge engineering programs to combat environmental problems.
For example, China is attempting to engineer itself out of its water crisis by diverting some of the waters of the Yangzi River to thirsty north China, when devising more manageable solutions to water use may be more advisable for a sustainable future.
SOUTH¨CNORTH WATER DIVERSION PROJECT Water is the lifeblood of economic and agricultural growth, but as China only possesses around 7% of the world¡¯s water resources (with almost 20% of its population), the liquid is an increasingly precious resource.
In a region of low rainfall, north China is facing a grim water crisis.
Farmers are draining aquifers that have taken thousands of years to accumulate, while Chinese industry is using three to 10 times more water per unit of production than developed nations.
Meanwhile, water usage in large cities such as B¨§ij¨©ng and Ti¨¡nj¨©n continues to climb as migrants move in from rural areas.
By some estimates, the aquifers of north China may only have another 30 years of life left.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains hypnotised by monumental engin- eering projects as solutions.
To combat the water crisis, the CCP embarked on the construction of the US$62 billion South¨CNorth Water Diversion Project, a vast network of rivers, canals and lakes lashing north and south.
The logic is to divert surplus water from the Yangzi River to the dwindling and long overexploited Yellow River.
The project has been snared by complications.
There are concerns that pollution in the Yangzi River waters will become progressively concentrated as water is extracted, while Yangzi cities such as N¨¢nj¨©ng and W¨³h¨¤n are increasingly anxious they will be left with less water.
Alarm has also arisen at the pollution in channels ¨C including the Grand Canal, which linked H¨¢ngzh¨­u with north China ¨C earmarked to take the diverted waters.
There are worries that these polluted reaches are almost untreatable, making elements of the project unviable.
Critics also argue that the project, which will involve the mass relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, will not address the fundamental issue of China¡¯s water woes ¨C the absence of policies for the sustainable use of water as a precious resource.
Some greener initiatives, such as the Three Gorges Dam, sport green credentials in some areas (no greenhouse gases, renewable energy source, small carbon footprint) but are environmentally unsound in others (water-polluting, seismic effects, local climate change).
Other initiatives may also be little more than hype, as China learns to twiddle the ¡®soft power¡¯ knobs in a public relations exercise with an increasingly attentive outside world.
The world¡¯s first ecologically sustainable city at D¨­ngt¨¡n on Chongming Island at the mouth of the Yangzi River was projected to house 25,000 people by the time of the 2010 World Expo.
There was considerable international press attention when the idea was launched, but the city has yet to be built.
In reflection of its water woes, China has developed the world¡¯s most intensive cloud-seeding program.
One of China¡¯s main quandaries is coal.
China¡¯s coal-fired growth comes at a time when the effort to tackle global warming has become a chief global priority.
Coal is cheap, easy to extract and remains China¡¯s number one energy source, generating almost 70% of power requirements.
Huge untapped reserves in the northwest await exploitation, vast coalfields in Inner Mongolia are now being mined and the economics of coal mining in China make it a cheap and reliable fuel source.
Nonetheless, coal is an unrenewable resource and experts predict China¡¯s reserves will be depleted within a century.
But with energy requirements booming in step with economic growth, it is unlikely China will shake off its increasing addiction to the fuel that has created some of the most polluted cities on the planet.
Top of section The Martial Arts of China Unlike Western fighting arts ¨C Savate, kickboxing, boxing, wrestling etc ¨C Chinese martial arts are deeply impregnated with religious and philosophical values.
And, some might add, a morsel or two of magic.
Many eminent exponents of g¨­ngf¨± ( ¹¦·ò ) were devout monks or religious recluses who drew inspiration from Buddhism and Taoism and sought a mystical communion with the natural world around them.
Their arts were not leisurely pursuits but were closely entangled with the meaning and purpose of their lives.
Often misinterpreted, g¨­ngf¨± teaches an approach to life that stresses patience, endurance, magnanimity and humility.
For those who truly take to the Chinese martial arts, it¡¯s a rewarding journey with a unique destination.
When two people discover they share an interest in martial arts, it¡¯s the cue for an endless exchange of techniques and anecdotes.
It¡¯s a club mentality for members only.
Several Chinese styles of g¨­ngf¨± include drunken sets, where the student mimics the supple movements of an inebriate.
STYLES & SCHOOLS China lays claim to a bewildering range of martial-arts styles.
There¡¯s the flamboyant and showy, inspired by the movements of animals or insects (such as Praying Mantis Boxing), but there are also schools more empirically built upon the science of human movement (eg Wing Chun).
Some pugilists stress a mentalist approach (eg Xingyi Quan) although others put their money on physical power (White Eyebrow Boxing).
On the more obscure fringes are the esoteric arts, abounding with metaphysical feats, arcane practices and closely guarded techniques.
Many fighting styles were once secretively handed down for generations within families and it is only relatively recently that outsiders have been accepted as students.
Some schools, especially the more obscure of styles, have died out partly because of their exclusivity.
Some styles have found themselves divided into competing factions, each laying claim to the original teachings and techniques.
Such styles may find themselves in a state of schism, where the original principles have become either distorted or lost.
Other styles though became part of the mainstream and flourished; Wing Chun in particular has been elevated into a globally recognised art, largely due to its associations with Bruce Lee (even though he ultimately developed his own style).
Unlike with Taekwondo or Karate-do, there is frequently no international regulatory body that oversees the syllabus, tournaments or grading requirements for China¡¯s individual martial arts.
Consequently students of China¡¯s myriad martial arts may be rather unsure of where they stand or what level they have attained.
With no standard syllabus, it is often down to the individual teacher to decide what to teach his or her student, and how quickly.
A teacher of Five Ancestors Boxing (W¨³z¨²qu¨¢n) may communicate the art in whatever increments he deems appropriate, but may only disclose the top-drawer skills that are crucial for success to his most trusted disciples.
A Malaysian Five Ancestors master once broke the leg of a Thai boxer, with his finger! Hard School Although there is considerable blurring between the two camps, Chinese martial arts are often distinguished between hard and soft schools.
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