Friday, November 24, 2006

The Official Mascot of the Beijing Paralympics 2008

This is the official mascot of the Beijing 2008 Paralympics! He's called 福牛乐乐 (translated as Fortune Cow, Happy).

Cow symbolises a simple, positive, diligent and proactive attitude towards life. This is congruent with the philosophy of the Paralympics.

Personally, I find this more appealing than the Fuwas.

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More Water Cube

These series of photos really demonstrate how huge and spectacular the "Water Cube" is.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Porn-watching pandas help unleash baby boom

Well, this doesn't have any correlation with Beijing 2008 other than Pandas being one of the Fuwas!

Nonetheless, I thought this is really funny!


Picture this: pandas watching porn to procreate.

"It works," enthuses Zhang Zhihe, a leading Chinese expert, about showing uninitiated males DVDs of fellow pandas mating.

It's taken years of worldwide research and now scientists say they have unleashed a baby boom among one of the world's most beloved but endangered animals, China's giant panda.

A bit of panda porn has helped too, they say.

Pandas are known to be poor breeders and blue movies are just one of many techniques that have been tried to teach them to breed. The efforts to understand and simulate conditions for mating and raising cubs have paid off in China, the panda's native habitat.

Now it's a matter of successful mating outside China. The first test will come in January, when Prasertsak Buntragulpoontawee hopes to bring off a successful mating between male Chuang Chuang and partner Lin Hui in the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai.

"It is the same idea as chimpanzees seeing people smoke and then copying it," says the Thai researcher.

Zhang, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, says this year's record high births is because of an accumulation of research on panda biology, nutrition and genetics while "trying to imitate nature better."

In the first 10 months of this year 31 cubs were born in captivity in China and 28 survived, said Zhang. That's an increase from 12 births in 2005 and just nine in 2000. Of this year's births, 14 came through natural breeding, while artificial insemination or a combination of the two produced the rest.

No cubs were born among the roughly 20 pandas outside China, but sperm from Atlanta Zoo's Yang Yang yielded an offspring for Lun Lun in Chengdu, China, Zhang told a conference here of 140 panda experts.

JoGayle Howard, an animal reproduction specialist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., said the goal of raising the captive breeding population to 300 from the current 220 is rapidly being reached. This would prevent inbreeding, widen the genetic pool and enable more captive animals to re-enter the wild, where the panda population is estimated at 1,600 to 3,000.

Howard said the biggest challenges in panda breeding are an extremely high rate of incompatibility and the very narrow window of opportunity -- females are ready to mate for as few as 48 hours a year.

"At first people thought that you just put two animals together and they would figure it out. But it didn't turn out that way," she said. "Now we know how to take care of the panda better. We've really made progress. But we're still learning a lot of even basic things.¡±

Howard explained that captive animals lacked proper socialization and when the male and female met for breeding ¡°they just freaked out and fought." Now enclosures are bigger and contain more animals.

There's also a push to keep cubs with their mothers longer, for up to two years, to give them more natural sex education.

In the wild females in heat will climb a tree while suitors below fight for her. In captivity, with no male rivals around, pandas often take out their aggression on the female.

"In the wild they have their own choices when mating," adds Zhang. "But when we breed them in captivity it's like taking two human beings and forcing them to mate."

There are still only about 15 captive male adults which breed naturally. Second best is artificial insemination, and after years of study frozen semen can now be shipped around the world and applied according to a comprehensive genetic database.

Prasertsak is prepared to use both methods as he readies his couple for mating at Chiang Mai Zoo, which has rented the animals from China for research and tourism purposes.

Last year Lin Hui showed promising symptoms but it turned out to be a pseudo-pregnancy, not unusual among pandas.

Opinions differ on the effect of blue movies, but Zhang and Prasertsak agree on the sound track.

"It's the sounds of breeding that stimulate them," Zhang said. "Pandas are just like human beings. They understand everything."



The Anti-Terrorism System

The following pictures include the anti-terrorism vehicles. Some of the vehicles are really perculiar. Anyone knows what exactly they are for???

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beijing uses GPS to track down and demolish illegal construction

(translated from
In the beginning of 2006, Beijing city planned to demolish 4.5 million m2 of illegal houses and buildings. This operation is now completed. To date, 1.6 milion m2 of the cleared land has already been converted to public areas.

A further 3 million m2 of illegal construction are planned for demolition in 2007. This is announced during an Urban Development Forum organized by the Beijing 2008 Environment Development Agency.

According to the agency, the current development to transform the urban environmental landscape has been smooth. They have step up the frequency of satellite tracking from once a quarter to bi-monthly to prevent new illegal construction. In the last 3 tracking, they have identified 40 different spots covering an area 87,200 m2.

The demolishment and relocation operation includes many of the “city villages”. The agency has planned for 80 “city villages” to be demolished and re-located to better quarters this year. 36 of these are already relocated while the rest should be completed by year end. Similar plans are in the work for the peripheral “villages” of the city.

The remaining 22 “city villages” will be demolished and relocated next year and mark the completion of the urban relocation plans for all the “city villages” in Beijing.

At the same time, relocation project of the villages in the Aviation corridor are also going on. 3 of the 9 villages are in the relocation phase while the rest are preparing for the shift.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Here we go again...

BEIJING (Reuters) - Air pollution in Beijing, under pressure to provide clear skies before the 2008 Olympics, reached the worst level on a government air quality index on Tuesday.

Beijing's air pollution was rated "hazardous" -- the highest category in the China Environmental Monitoring Center's index -- for the 24-hour period ending at noon on Tuesday, Xinhua said.

For a second consecutive day, Beijing was blanketed in heavy fog, which reduced visibility to a few hundred metres, and had delayed at least 80 flights, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The capital's worsening pollution comes as China's environmental watchdog reported on Tuesday that national industrial emissions continued to soar in the first nine months of 2006.

Beijing has pledged to cut air pollution in the lead-up to the Olympics but faces an uphill battle as its increasingly wealthy population rushes to buy exhaust-emitting cars.

From July to September, one out of every three days were classified as polluted in Beijing and 15 other major cities and had affected the "physical" and "psychological health" of some 15 million people, the State Environmental Protection Agency said on its Web site.

Pollution is really a huge problem in China... Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Looks like this is the biggest challenge for the success of the Games in Beijing 2008 will continue to be air pollution!


The Beijing University Stadium now the Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat Stadium?

Today, the Beijing University received a $173.3million rmb ($22million USD) donation from the Khoo Foundation (Singapore) to aid the construction of the Beijing University Stadium. This stadium will the venue of the Ping Pong competition in Beijing 2008.

The late Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat was the richest man in Singapore. He had an estimated fortune of $5 billion usd. As a result, the stadium will be renamed after him.

It's kinda interesting and heartwarming how many overseas Chinese are willing to give huge sums of money to help build the stadiums. The Water Cube is fully funded by overseas Chinese. So is the equestrain competition venue in Hong Kong. Many of these overseas Chinese are decendents of the very poor who were forced to leave their villages to seek a better life for themselves and the family.

For those who made it, many will give millions of dollars to help build schools, factories, houses and now stadiums in China. Even when they are died, they will give a sum of money, like the Khoo family.

It's ironic at the same time because if China wasn't weak for the first 80 years of the 20th century, many of these people won't have left, become rich and contribute back right now. Will they make it rich if they have stayed on in a stronger China? Nobody knows. The only thing we know is that many Chinese love their motherland no matter how far they are away from it.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Beijing building the Olympic dream

By Carrie Gracie
BBC News, Beijing

"The Olympics is seen as a chance to show China as rich and united

The Beijing Olympics may be almost two years away for you, but this city lives and breathes it.

Ever since it won the bid, the Chinese capital has been straining every sinew to make the 2008 Olympics the best ever.

The stadiums rising over the Beijing skyline are cutting-edge, a firm statement about China's growing confidence on the world stage.

And it is not just Olympic architecture - subways, roads, railways and a huge new airport from one of the world's top architects are also being built.

Beijing is using the Olympics to transform itself into a fitting capital for a 21st century superpower.

Making up for lost time

For the ruling Communist Party this is also an important re-branding exercise. If it can demonstrate to its own public that Beijing is accepted and respected on the international stage, and if it can persuade the world that - political corruption and repression notwithstanding - China is strong, rich and united, it wins twice over from the games.

A win on the field would be gratifying too. Arguments over Taiwan kept Chinese athletes out of the Olympics until 1980, but they have been making up for lost time.

China was only three gold medals behind the US in 2004, and to come top on home turf would make Beijing's 2008 celebration complete.

Sports chiefs have just told their athletes to cut out socialising and avoid all the lucrative distractions of advertising and self-promotion, so they can focus their energy on training.

Critics mutter that China pushes its athletes too hard and still harbours drugs cheats in some sports.

But Olympic gold medallist Deng Yaping told me China's athletes are cleaner than most others, and that the authorities are determined to stamp out drugs altogether.

As for being bullied, she was picked as a future table tennis star at the age of five and spent 20 years inside the sports system.

She insists that it is the athletes who push themselves. She says she got only encouragement from her coaches.

Good impressions

The public is in training too. Mass campaigns of self-improvement are under way, with schoolchildren taking part in Olympic quizzes and essay competitions, and their parents are being urged to learn English and study books on etiquette.

China wants to make the best possible impression on the world in 2008. Spitting, jostling, swearing or surliness will not be permitted.

When I carried out a random survey of Beijingers in a vegetable market and on a bus, I did not find anyone complaining about all of this. They said the Games had helped modernise their city and boost the economy.

Even the builders from southern China I found squatting at the roadside over a mug of rice and vegetables had more complaints about their lunch than the Olympics. They said the Games would be a proud moment for the nation.

Outside China, not everyone is convinced. Political and religious exiles argue that Beijing should never have been awarded the Olympics and that anyone who cares about human rights or democracy should boycott the 2008 event.

Beijing's backers say the opposite is true, that the Olympics is opening China to the world in every field from sport to broadcasting and architecture.

The legacy of 2008, they hope, will be not just stadiums, medals and fireworks, but a government which is more responsive to its own people."

The last paragraph is really heartwarming. I hope it turns out this way.


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Beijing Chooses Flowers for the 2008 Olympics

Chinese botanists are gathering in Beijing this weekend to select the flowers that will be used to decorate parts of Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.

"Experts will select 100 types of flowers from more than 300, which will be able to cope with Beijing's climate," said an official from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry.

Chrysanthemums and China roses are already confirmed on the list thanks to their status as "flowers of the city", titles bestowed on them by Beijing residents in 1986. Also on the list include peony and calla.

In recent years, a debate has arisen over the suitability of the Chrysanthemum as one of Beijing's signature flowers due to its widespread use as a funeral flower in the West.

Supporters of the flower argue that it received high praise in ancient Chinese literature and if you gave someone a single Chrysanthemum, it meant you viewed the person as honest. Even so, Chinese diplomatic officials now no longer consider a gift of a Chrysanthemum appropriate for visiting foreign guests.

Plants grown in the Beijing summer can usually sustain the oppressive heat and humidity, but the current amount of flowers is not sufficient to meet the capital's demand for street and stadium decoration in 2008.

Landscape engineers are going to introduce more flower types from other parts of the country through crossbreeding to produce flowers that can blossom in the heat of August , experts said.

[Source - Xinhua News Agency]


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Water Cube and the Bird Nest

Both stadiums will be completed by 2007.


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