Tag Archives: Beijing

Going underground (and belly up)

From the Economist

NOT many global cities of nearly 9m people lack an underground line, but until the end of last year the eastern city of Hangzhou was one of them. Now city slickers and rural migrants squeeze together inside shiny new carriages, checking their smartphones and reading free newspapers like commuters the world over. There is standing-room only in the rush hour and, with tickets at less than a dollar, the metro is revolutionising the way people travel across town.

Two other Chinese cities—Suzhou and Kunming—have also opened their first underground lines in the past year, and the north-eastern city of Harbin is preparing to open one too. Four more cities have just added a new line to their existing systems. At least seven others have begun building their first lines.

If all the metros approved by central officials are built, 38 cities will have at least one line by the end of the decade, with more than 6,200km (3,850 miles) of track (London has nearly 400km.) As with many infrastructure projects in China, including the high-speed rail network above ground, questions abound about the wisdom and potential wastefulness of such ambitions. Many of the underground systems are needed, but some are being built in cities that are too small to justify the exorbitant expense. By some estimates the total bill could approach $1 trillion, not including the cost of operation.

Zhao Jian of Beijing Jiaotong University reckons that metros in fewer than 20 of the 38 designated cities make sense. He says that perhaps ten of those could be replaced with cheaper light rail, which runs above ground. The minimum core urban population that can qualify a city for an underground system is 3m people, but even a place that big may find the operating costs crippling. Mr Zhao says the systems in Harbin and Kunming are unnecessary.

Shi Nan of the Academy of Urban Planning and Design in Beijing says it is obvious that “we cannot count on private cars” to get around the big cities. But the metro projects mostly rely on government subsidies, and operating them will be a “bottomless pit”, says Mr Zhao. He says city officials tend to pursue grand projects that may not even make money because they will not be around to bear the burden. The performance of local officials is evaluated on how much they increase local GDP, not on whether projects they build are needed. Today’s leaders get credit for spending money. Tomorrow’s must foot the bill.

Even megacities long overdue for more underground tracks—like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou—are building and operating them at a cost that worries planners. Operating the metro lines of Beijing, now up to 442km of track, has cost about $1.6 billion over the past two years, but passengers pay just 30 cents a ride. The metro has helped to alleviate traffic and pollution, yet Beijing remains one of the world’s most jammed and polluted cities; it needs more investment in public transport of all sorts.

I have read a bunch of stuff lately on the debt that China is incurring at all levels of government.  Some have said it could be the next economy to go bad.  After reading more and more about infrastructure projects like this, I am starting to agree.

72 cyber attacks, none against Chinese institutions

I wonder who is behind them.

Alperovitch said that McAfee had notified all 72 victims of the attacks, which are under investigation by law enforcement agencies around the world. He declined to give more details.

Jim Lewis, a cyber expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it was very likely China was behind the campaign because some of the targets had information that would be of particular interest to Beijing.

The systems of the IOC and several national Olympic Committees were breached before the 2008 Beijing Games. And China views Taiwan as a renegade province, and political issues between them remain contentious even as economic ties have strengthened in recent years.

"Everything points to China. It could be the Russians, but there is more that points to China than Russia," Lewis said.

McAfee, acquired by Intel Corp this year, would not comment on whether China was responsible.

Live coverage from your living room

CBC’s live coverage and play by play of the Olympics will be done from Toronto.

CBC-sports-logo It’s this: A good number of the on-air people covering the Games for the CBC, TSN, NBC, BBC and other international broadcasters will not be in Beijing or anywhere near the Olympic city. They will call events off a monitor from their home studios.

The CBC’s play by play for women’s soccer is being handled by Nigel Reed and Jason De Vos. But they’re not in Beijing. They’re announcing the games from Toronto by watching the games off a TV monitor.

The other events that the CBC will announce from Toronto are sailing, equestrian, weight lifting and Taekwondo.

In some cases, there are logistical reasons for calling these sports from a studio, but mainly it’s a money saver.   Joel Darling, the head of production for CBC Sports, said the fact the women’s soccer team will play games in four venues would have made travel difficult and expensive for a play by play team.

“There was the cost involved of moving (Reed and De Vos) around inside the country,” he said. “And there’s no point in sending them there and calling it off tube.”

Darling said the BBC announcers are calling the men’s soccer tournament off a monitor from London.

The CBC will use the BBC and TVNZ (New Zealand) feeds for men’s soccer — another money saver. NBC’s play by play teams for weightlifting, equestrian, softball, soccer, tennis, baseball, handball, table tennis, badminton, fencing, archery, shooting and field hockey will work out of New York.

This seems like a bad commercial for HD.  I can understand why they are doing this but having your game announcers at home rather than around the team they are covering (in the case of women’s soccer), you do lose a lot in terms of coverage, conversations, and the athlete’s perspective.  For me personally, it is just another way that this version of the games seems to be the worst in a long time. 

We talk about how China’s human rights record, links to the genocide in Darfur, and Tibet hurt the reputation of the IOC.  Doesn’t CBC being apart of the whole spectacle that is the Olympics hurt it’s reputation when covering Darfur or human rights issues?   Same with all of the media outlets and Olympic sponsors actually.  Doesn’t it say that we care about human rights unless there is a lot of money to be made.  Back when the announcement was made it was said that the games would change China but in the end, it seems as if the IOC itself made the concessions.