SUPER HIGH RESOLUTION: From China, the 24.9 billion pixel photo that’s blown minds

Shanghai – VIJAY SHAH via sources

If you are an amateur photographer and your only method of capturing the world around you is with the potato camera lumped in with your smartphone, the subject of this article might make you feel even more ‘crappy’ than before, or it might just inspire you.

Bigpixel, a Chinese company specialising in in-depth photography, hooked up with a handful of tourism promotion agencies in the city of Shanghai to produce a 360-degree photograph with the mind-shattering and eye-burning resolution of 24.9 billion pixels, or 195 gigapixels (195,000 megapixels), the second highest resolution panorama ever produced in Asia to date. Bear in the mind the average smartphone takes pictures at maximum 12 megapixels. Shot from the top of the 468-metre Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower in the city’s Pudong New Area, the image of Shanghai’s skyline is breathtaking in itself, but the real fun part comes when you zoom in on different parts of the image, using your mouse.


The detail of this panorama is so intense that you can make out the clothing and hair of people walking near the roundabout below the tower. From the default view you see when you open the website, these same people look like mere flecks of dust, a pixel or two in size. You can also see the fine detail on vehicles on the streets below, or become a virtual voyeur of sorts and spy through the windows of the various skyscrapers on view.

The Bigpixel scenery picture has blown minds across the internet, with people comparing it to the world’s most extreme re-interpretation of the classic children’s puzzle book series ‘Where’s Wally?’. Dan Landek tweeted: “That has fried my brain! You can zoom in to the back of the photo and read the number plates on the cars! Unreal”. Meanwhile, on Facebook, Ellie Hodgson exclaimed: “it is nuts how good this image is, and how far you can zoom in and the clarity of the image!”

Sue Tucker, also on Facebook, commented: “Omg you can see things on desks in those offices when you zoom in !!!”. Some commentators however disputed that the image was taken from a single camera shot at all, claiming that the panorama was in fact several hundred images cleverly stitched together. This was the case according to Digital Trends, which said that the picture took two months to set up. Around eight million people have already explored the jumbo holiday pic, which is said to be 2,000 times more precise than that taken by an ordinary camera, according to Business Insider.

Bigpixel also trades under the name Jingkun Technology. The Shanghai image has become the company’s centrepiece, and has helped broaden its appeal among the many Chinese and international companies it has worked with.

You can see for yourself at this link:


The Poke, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“You can zoom all the way in to this 24.9bn pixel camera pic and minds are being blown” – The Poke (21 December 2018)

“195 Gigapixel Shanghai” – Bigpixel Studio

“We could explore this astonishing 195-gigapixel panorama of Shanghai all day” – Trevor Mogg, Digital Trends/Designtechnica Corporation (25 December 2018)

“A Chinese company said it created a photo with such a high resolution that you can zoom from thousands of meters away to see people’s facial expressions” – Christian Edwards, Business Insider/Insider Inc. (21 December 2018)


“Free stock photo of air pollution, architecture, asia” – Pixabay, Pexels




CHINA MINING ACCIDENTS: Two reported last week

Beijing, CHINA
VIJAY SHAH via Reuters and the Jerusalem Post



At least two mining accidents have been reported in China in the past week, causing the deaths of 38 miners in total, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported via Chinese state-owned media and the international Reuters news agency today.

As a rapidly industrialising country with a wealth of natural resources, the People’s Republic has seen hundreds of mines established to explore for coal, precious metals and other materials, but many mines are unlicensed and the country has a poor safety record generally, with fatal accidents a regular occurrence.

In the past five days, two fatal accidents have been reported. The first occurred in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, where an explosion at a privately owned coal mine killed 21 people, the national news agency Xinhua stated. The incident, which took place in the city of Qitaihe this past Tuesday, trapping 22 miners underground. There is believed to be one survivor and rescue work is still in process.

The second disaster occurred just today, when another coal mine exploded in the Inner Mongolia province on China’s northern border with Mongolia, killing 17. An undisclosed number of mine workers are also trapped, and rescue teams have reached the remote region to try and pull out survivors, according to Xinhua.


Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
Chris #MAGA, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“Chinese mine disasters kill at least 38” – Reuters via Jerusalem Post – Breaking News/Jpost Inc. (3 December 2016)
“File:Coal mine in Inner Mongolia 002.jpg” – Herry Lawford via Zolo, Wikimedia Commons (13 August 2005)

VALUABLE SMOKE: Artist helps China turn smog into diamonds

Beijing, CHINA
VIJAY SHAH via World Economic Forum

Smog is probably one of the most useless… and dangerous things known to humanity. The thick all-enveloping clouds of chemical particulates, water vapour, smoke and other atmospheric ingredients kills thousands of people globally per year, causes disruption to traffic and the economy and is an inescapable hazard to sufferers of breathing problems such as asthma. But now, in the notoriously polluted cities of China, they are not only fighting back, but are making a tidy profit from it too.

China has some of the most polluted aerial environments on earth. With a 1 billion-plus population and rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, as well as a determined quest to become a major world superpower, the country’s citizens pay the price for China’s great march to prosperity, enduring extremely high smog levels owing to the proliferation of factories, industrial units and slash-and-burn farming creating smoke which blows in from the countryside. In some large cities, including the capital Beijing, smog occurs almost on a daily basis, and is particularly evident in the summer months. One nationwide smog incident in late 2015 sparked red alerts and health warnings in ten cities, and the dirty air is thick enough to reach California, thousands of miles away in the Pacific.


However an artist from the Netherlands has proposed a novel solution that could not only rid cities in China, and in other rapidly developing nations, of their peasoupers, but also provide a boost to the diamond industry, turning a killer into a sparkler.

Dutch national Daan Roosegaarde is the in-charge of the Smog Free Project. The premise of the project is simple. First erect a seven metre tall tower which looks like it was made from window blinds and resembles a portly windmill. The tower draws in the polluted air and purifies it. As it does so, the carbon from the smog is extracted and compressed into carbon, the building blocks for organic life and the core ingredient of diamonds. The tower transforms the carbon dust into valuable gems, in a process that takes just thirty minutes. Beijing’s smog alone is 32 per cent carbon particulates, which will mean a lot of gems. The towers are, not surprisingly considering the background of their designer, influenced by Dutch architectural styles, and are intended to not look too obtrusive or space-consuming, a form of functional urban sculpture.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Roosegaarde told the assembled delegates and press: “It started with a dream,”

“The dream of clean air for everyone.”

The idea for the Smog Free Project first formed in Roosegaarde’s imagination when he was observing Beijing’s notorious smog from a hotel window.

“On Saturday, I could see the world around me, the cars, the trees, the people. But on Wednesday it was completely covered in smog, with pollution, and that image made me a little bit sad.”

Determined to free people from being forced to stay inside during smoggy days and to give them freedom to breathe safe air, he began planning the project.

Tests done in Beijing have shown the technology does work. Areas where the towers were tested were found to have air 70 to 75 per cent cleaner than places which did not have them. The success of the tests was picked up on by Beijing’s city government who have decided to endorse the artist’s project. Roosegaarde will now tour other cities in China to display the virtues and benefits of the towers.

The diamonds produced by the Smog Free Project will be used in jewellery making and the profits made ploughed back into the project, particularly in funding the construction of more towers.

World Economic Forum, Facebook, Facebook Inc.
“Why turning China’s smog into diamonds isn’t as crazy as it sounds” – Rachel Hallett, World Economic Forum – Industry Agenda (27 June 2016)
Rosa Ortiz.

XIAOMI MI NOTE: New phablet to take on iPhone 6 Plus

Xiaomi, the Chinese phone manufacturer who have had runaway success in the Asian mobile phone and tablet markets, has launched a new larger-sized model which it is touting as its biggest challenge to the Apple iPhone yet. The device, known as Mi Note, is the latest to join the ever-growing list of ‘phablets’ to hit the market, as consumers move away from wanting to spend big funds to purchase separate phones and tablets and look towards gadgets that combine the best of both worlds.

The Mi Note comes at a good time for Xiaomi, who have recently been declared the world’s most valuable start-up, according to technology news site TechCrunch. The company’s new-found bravery in its launch to break the hegemony of Apple Inc. comes as it enjoys runaway success in the rapidly developing and emerging markets of the Gulf, India and east Asia. The company plans to become the world’s premier manufacturer of smartphones in the next decade, knocking Apple off the top spot. It is now China’s largest, and the world’s third largest, smartphone giant.

The Mi Note, which bears a strong resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy Note as well as its newer iPhone rivals, was launched at a special press conference in the PRC capital, Beijing this past Thursday. At the launch event for the Mi Note , which retails at 3,299 yuan ($530, £350) for the largest 64 gigabyte model, and its more advanced sibling the Mi Note Pro, the Xiaomi chief executive officer and co-founder Lei Jun was said to have been very keen to play off the iPhone 6 Plus and his new product together, making frequent comparisons and references between the two in his speech. He claimed that the Mi Note devices were lighter and thinner than the latest reincarnation of the iPhone, all the while bearing a larger screen. Jun also took a swipe at the iPhone’s back-facing camera, criticising its jutting out from the main body of the iPhone, while the Mi Note has a flattened back camera incorporated into the body of the Mi Note, so no annoying obtrusion.


A selection of products manufactured by Xiaomi, China’s largest smartphone manufacturer. The company has recently released its lightest phablet yet, the Mi Note.

The Mi Note was not just better than the iPhone merely for having a flat camera lens; CEO Jun told the gathered media at the launch event. He also claimed the new front camera boasted 13 megapixels and came with image stabilisation which will put an end to shaky and blurred snaps.

The Mi Note also comes with a 5.7-inch screen, with a Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz processor under the bonnet, alongside 3 GB RAM. As for the Mi Note Pro, that comes with a more powerful 64-bit, 8-core Snapdragon 810 processor, and a whopping 4 gigabytes RAM. The device includes 64 GB of storage and costs 3,299 yuan ($535, £350), while the cheapest 16 GB model will retail in at 2,299 yuan ($370, £244) — Xiaomi says support LTE-CAT will give users lightning fast 450Mbps download speeds. The Mi Note Pro is the most expensive phone that Xiaomi has ever sold, and its best on paper too, in TechCrunch’s opinion.

The phone has a revolutionary new ‘curved’ screen. While LG  have already burst into the market with ‘flexible screens’, and Samsung have recently released a version of its Galaxy Note phablet with a screen that stretches over the side of the devices and offers virtual buttons, the Xiaomi recipe goes for aesthetics, giving the Mi Note sleek curves and a more natural design.

Xiaomi has gone in for slimmer phablets, treading a path well worn by its rivals. The Mi Note has a thickness of only 6.95mm, tipping the scales at 161 grams, making it incredibly lightweight compared with the iPhone or many other phablets, which have been criticised for being clunky and demanding on users’ pockets. Finally, Jun mentioned the Mi Note’s battery life; the best of its products yet, with a 3,000 mAh battery manufactured by Korean electronics firm LG. Xiaomi also produce its own range of portable chargers, although it is not known if the company will be producing chargers for the Mi Note in particular. The phone can also support multiple SIM types, such as micro-SIM, which is very rare in the phone world.

The Mi Note will be available in China from 27 January. There are no currently scheduled release dates for markets abroad as of yet.

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“Xiaomi Launches Mi Note Phablet To Fight The iPhone 6 Plus” – Jon Russell, TechCrunch/AOL Inc. (15 January 2015)
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“Buy Xiaomi Mi3 & Redmi 1S Easily – Best Android Phone 2014” – Abhay Nagpal, (29 August 2014)

OCCUPY CENTRAL: Hong Kong protesters cancel vote on street occupation

Occupy Central, a network of pro-democracy activists and university students who have brought much of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a weeks-long sit-in protest against what they see as mainland Chinese interference in the election of the former British colony‘s chief executive, have cancelled a vote on what their next steps will be in their street occupation, reports the Voice of America in Asia. The vote was dropped only hours before it was meant to take place, suggests reports from Hong Kong.

Following landmark talks between leaders of the protest movement and representatives of the Hong Kong SAR assembly, the city-state’s authorities had planned to send a letter to the Beijing cabinet. The letter was to illustrate protesters’ opposition to China’s decision to pre-approve candidates for the 2017 elections in Hong Kong. Candidates with a pro-Beijing stance are more likely to be favoured in the selection process, several world media have reported.

The Hong Kong government also offered to hold more talks with Occupy Central protesters on democratic reform, with a proviso that the protesters withdraw from the street sit-ins and barricades they have erected all over Central’s main roads. Senior leaders of the protest have rubbished the overture by the Leung administration, saying the proposals were insufficient, however others in the camp have said that a protesters’ referendum is needed to get everyone’s viewpoints aired. It is not known when the vote on the future or intensity of the protests will be rescheduled, Voice of America said.

Tens of thousands of protesters have built camps around the Central district, blocking main traffic routes and threatening to extend their occupation to government buildings if their demands for more democracy in Hong Kong were not met. The protests soon degenerated into anarchy as local police began teargasing and arresting protesters en masse. Protesters began using umbrellas to shield themselves from the highly disabling gas, leading the international media to dub the protests the ‘Umbrella Revolution’. Police there have been accused of acting heavy-handed in their treatment of people participating in Occupy Central, including one protest leader who was dragged by officers into a side street and viciously beaten. The policemen involved were suspended after footage of the assault on activist Ken Tsang, which was caught on camera phone, was widely broadcast on television.

Both Beijing and Hong Kong authorities have condemned the protests as ‘illegal’ and that they do not reflect the will of the majority of Hong Kong residents. Beijing has also alleged the presence of foreign involvement and interference in the protests, while sympathisers and supporters of democracy in the region have staged simultaneous protests in solidarity with Occupy Central in several major cities across the world, often in front of Chinese embassies. This past Thursday, the protesters received support from the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which urged China to rethink its vetting of candidates for the elections in three years’ time. The UN agency called on Beijing to ensure ‘universal suffrage’ in Hong Kong, including the “right to stand for elections.”

Occupy Central began after local protesters, including many university students who grew up during the current SAR era, began occupying the streets of Hong Kong’s financial heartland, the Central district to demand the resignation of the special administrative region’s chief executive Chun-Ying Leung and for Beijing to give up its plans for nominating future chief executives and government leaders according to their level of support for the People’s Republic. Hong Kong has been administered as a ‘special administrative region’ in China since the handover from the U.K. in 1997. Under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, Hong Kong’s democratic setup was to be left intact for fifty years, but increasingly, China’s government has been called into question by external observers for dampening democratic reform.

Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter
VOA Asia, Twitter
“Hong Kong Protesters Scrap Vote” – VOA News, AP & AFP, Voice of America – News- Asia (26 October 2014)
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GSK CHINA CONTROVERSY: British PM risks ‘diplomatic tensions’

As the United Kingdom government prepares for a trade mission visiting China to woo the country’s investors to trade with Britain, a controversy involving a British company threatens to destabilise relations between the U.K. and China, overshadowing the upcoming visit. The international pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is currently under investigation by the Chinese government over alleged accusations that it behaved like a ‘criminal godfather’ in an expansive network of bribes and kickbacks.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has stepped into the debacle by inviting the GSK chief executive officer Andrew Witty to join his delegation on the trade mission to the People’s Republic. Cameron’s invitation to Witty has raised concerns in some quarters that relations between Britain and China could degenerate if Witty participates in the mission, according to an article published today by the Huffington Post blog and news magazine. 

GlaxoSmithKline (Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

The offices of GSK in Brentford, Middlesex, UK. One of the company’s main management offices in Britain.

GSK’s Chinese division, which employs a workforce of around 7,000, was placed under investigation in July 2013 over allegations that it behaved as a Mafia godfather, using its prominence in the Chinese drugs market to act as the ringleader of a nationwide medicines bribery network. The manufacturer is accused of channelling up to 3 billion yuan (£303 million) to several doctors, hospitals and clinics to boost its drug sales and rig the country’s pharma market in its favour. The bribery operations are believed to have run since 2007.

In an investigation lasting six months, Chinese police uncovered 700 middlemen who operated via GSK and transferred funds to hospitals and medical staff to encourage them to only prescribe GSK’s drugs to patients. The money was funnelled through a series of bogus travel agencies and consultancies, according to Chinese investigators. Middlemen would bribe senior GSK executives with favours, including alleged ‘sexual kickbacks’ and cash bribes, to win trading privileges. Doctors involved in the bribery network would be issued with special credit cards tied to GSK business accounts. The doctors would then collect financial incentives to prescribe GSK drugs rather than generics or products of rival manufacturers. One travel agency suspected by police to have links to the GSK bribery network never sold any airline tickets or holiday packages but still had a turnover of tens of millions of yuan. One Chinese newspaper claimed that the agencies would set up fictitious corporate meetings that required staff travel. The budgets for these meetings that were officially meant to go on staff travel expenses were taken off-book and used to line corrupt medical professionals’ pockets.

Four senior Chinese members of GSK’s staff have already been detained and the head of Chinese operations for GSK’s headquarters in the UK has left the country and not returned, according to The Telegraph newspaper. GSK has also been investigated over tax irregularities concerning its drug sales.

Gao Feng, head of the economic crimes investigation unit at the Ministry of Public Security, has expressed publicly the controversial belief among Chinese lawmakers that bribery is an ingrained part of GSK’s business dealings. Feng said in July: “From our investigation, bribery is part of the strategy of this company. This is why they have bribery activities in China.

They used travel agents as a money platform. But I must make it clear that among these partners, GSK is the main party responsible. It is like a criminal organisation, there is always a boss. In this game, GSK is the godfather.

The investigators also claim that requests for information from GSK’s British headquarters have met with no response. Feng also stated then that similar bribery networks set up by other international pharmaceutical firms operating in China could also be uncovered by the police and ministerial investigation. Chinese patients have to pay up to 300 yuan for tablets that cost only 30 yuan to manufacture.

(c) Tom Varco/Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Witty is not only CEO of GlaxoSmithKline but also a business confidante of the British prime minister. He serves as a member of Cameron’s business advisory group. In response to the Chinese probe into his company’s financial dealings, Witty sent head of emerging markets Abbas Hussain to manage GSK’s response to the authorities’ accusations. The probe is expected to be completed this month.

GSK’s drug sales in the growing Asian superpower have plummeted since the probe began with a decline of 61%, which Witty has blamed on ‘scaremongering’ by the Chinese media. Last year, GSK made sales revenues of £759 million through pharmaceuticals and vaccines and had sustained a year-on-year increase in profitability in China’s rapidly growing medicines market, until Chinese consumers’ confidence in GSK was dampened by strong local media coverage of the scandal.

In response to the allegations, Witty said: “The activities described by the authorities are very serious and totally unacceptable. They are contrary to our values and to everything I believe in. We very clearly recognise there is a profound need to earn the trust of Chinese people again. We will take every action to do so.

We continue to fully co-operate with the authorities and respect the progress of the investigation. As such there is very little further I can say.

Earlier in July, GSK had promised full co-operation with authorities including closing down the travel agencies and conducting a ‘thorough review’ of all historic transactions conducted via the agencies and medics. An unidentified GSK spokesperson said “GSK shares the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption. These allegations are shameful and we regret this has occurred“. The company has carried out a prior investigation internally into its financial practices and has found no evidence of wrongdoing or corruption, and promised to co-operate fully with the Chinese police.

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“GSK CEO Andrew Witty Joins David Cameron In China Amid Bribery Probe” – Asa Bennett, The Huffington Post UK/AOL (UK) Limited/HPMG News (2 December 2013) LINK
“GlaxoSmithKline accused of ‘criminal godfather’ behaviour in China” – Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph via Yahoo! Finance UK & Ireland/Yahoo! – News Network (15 July 2013) LINK
“File:Lexapro pills.jpg” – Tom Varco, Wikimedia Commons (8 August 2006) LINK

PHOTO MOMENT: Chinese statue honours road sanitary workers

Vijay Shah

This Sunday’s picture comes from the Twitter photo album of an account by a Kuwaiti known simply as Rahal (@7madms). The account usually tweets sayings in the Arabic language and additionally offers advertising aimed at Rahal’s 2.5 million followers.

(c) 7madms

The statue, which appears to be brass, but may have been painted gold to give that effect, pays homage to the street sweepers and sanitary workers of the People’s Republic of China. It has long been a tradition in nations with Communist governments to erect statues and monuments honouring the working classes and key political figures. The political ideology revolves centrally around the emancipation and constant productivity of the worker, particularly their vital role in keeping communist societies running smoothly.

The monument features two street cleaners with traditional grass brooms hard at work. One is taking a short break to get some badly-needed nourishment. The man to the left is pushing along a wheelie bin filled to the brim with household waste. It is located near government buildings in Changzhou and was intended as a thank-you gift for the local sanitary workers’ hard work in keeping the streets of the city hygienic. Changzhou is a prefecture-level city in Jiangsu province, in the south of the country.


رحال (Rahal) on Twitter LINK
مديرية بلديات محافظة نينوى (Nineveh Province Municipalities Directorate) on Facebook LINK
Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK

CHINA AIRPORT BLAST: Large explosion reported at Beijing Int’l Airport

There has been reports of an explosion at China’s Beijing International Airport according to news sources on Twitter.

The explosion is believed to have taken place at the airport’s Terminal 3 building in the arrivals hall. One person is said to have been killed according to a Chinese media report.

Xinhua news agency reported witnesses as hearing a loud bang from the airport’s arrival lounge. 

It is not yet known which group or individual is behind the blast. The People’s Republic of China is fighting against Uighur separatists in the north-western Xinjiang province, home to a Turkic minority who have accused the Beijing government of oppressing their culture and religion, as well as allowing wholesale migration of ethnic Han Chinese into the area, making the Uighurs a minority in their land.

However by 12:38 pm BST it has been reported by the BBC that a man is being treated at a Beijing hospital after allegedly detonating a device in the airport’s grounds.

(c) @hutuzaixian

Smoke from the explosion at Beijing’s International Airport as observed by a witness.

According to one traveller, identified only by their Twitter handle ‘@hutuzaixian’, a disabled man in a wheelchair was spotted clutching an object. He detonated it in the arrivals lounge. The man was seen waiting around on his own, holding an object which appeared to be homemade and wrapped in white plastic. He was not near other passengers at the time and only security personnel were present. The bomb exploded quickly, according to @hutuzaixian, an eyewitness who tweeted pictures of the bomber on Twitter. The picture, which was originally posted on the Chinese social network Weibo, has not been independently verified. Other accounts say that the man was chanting shortly before he activated the bomb.

The explosion took place shortly before 6:30 am local time, reports the South China Morning Post.

A report from Reuters via India’s DNA has stated that the device may have been powered using “black gunpowder”, an easily sourced product in China commonly used for demolition and fireworks. Passengers were evacuated by police after the explosion rocked the terminal. One witness, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt of the International Crisis Group think tank, reported seeing a “huge explosion followed by panic, smoke and dust at Terminal 3….Lots of excitement, police (were very) angry, shouted crowds back and told everyone to leave,” she added.

At 1:00 pm British Standard Time, Russia Today reported that the bomber had been identified as Zhongxing Ji. He is believed to originate from Shandong province, an affluent part of the country with no known activities around political unrest. His motive is as yet unknown, but a report from Russia Today said that Ji had set off the explosive device as a one-man protest against police who allegedly subjected him to a vicious beating that gave him permanent injuries that required a wheelchair, according to Twitter users.

(c) @alert5/@FluffyFox/Russia Today

The bomber holding the device in plastic bag (pictures from eyewitnesses). Medical staff immediately arrived at the scene. The man’s wheelchair is seen lying on its side in one photo.

A letter purported to be from the bomber has been leaked, according to Russia Today. Its content has not yet been revealed as yet.

Latest reports suggest no casualties, other than the bomber.

State-owned television network CCTV has said that no deaths have been reported, and that no flights in and out of Beijing have been affected. Order has been restored throughout the Airport.

Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) is situated about 20 miles from the centre of the capital. Since last year it has become the second busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. It is also known as the “China Gateway” and is the epicentre of China’s rapidly increasing tourism and foreign travel industries.

The airport’s Terminal 3 was built to handle extra passenger numbers for the 2008 Olympic Games, which Beijing hosted. It is the fifth-largest building in the world by area and handles approximately 19,200 luggage items an hour. Beijing airport’s three terminals see 82 million people through their doors every year.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: HalfEatenMind marks Chinese New Year – wallpaper

By Vijay Shah

It is time for another celebratory wallpaper to mark a specially illustrious occasion. This time, the blog is commemorating the Chinese New Year. A major highlight of revelry marked in the calendars of more than a billion people worldwide, both Chinese and non-Chinese, this fun and joyous festival will fall on the Sunday 10th February (just over a week away) with an abundance of spectacular fireworks displays, fine foods, family get-togethers and cheerful tidings of good luck, happiness and prosperity in the year ahead. The best places to witness Chinese New Year as its most spectacular is of course the People’s Republic of China, its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and in neighbouring Taiwan, but Chinese communities and Chinatowns from Kolkata and San Francisco to London and Mauritius will also be setting the skies ablaze with fiery colour and treating the public to delicious noodles and dumplings, while symbolic dragon dances wind their way down high streets to the tumultuous sound of drums and other instruments.

Chinese New Year - London
Chinese New Year – London (Photo credit: Heidi & Matt)

February 10 marks the arrival of the Year of the Snake. All years in this traditional calendar draw their names from a series of animals associated with traditional Chinese folklore. There are various legends about how the years got their names. According to one, many centuries ago, Lord Buddha assembled a group of animals for a very important meeting. Upon assembling representatives from a myriad species of the animal kingdom, the Lord announced that he would select the thirteen most faithful animals to be bestowed with his divine blessings. He would also honour each of the thirteen with a year named after their kind.

The animals in their eagerness to be immortalised for countless generations became very competitive. They immediately began to argue and dispute amongst themselves. They all felt that they should be among the Buddha’s chosen ones. The Lord, greatly troubled by the tension, decided to resolve matters through a swimming race across a notoriously turbulent river. The first 13 creatures to reach the other riverbank would be honoured by His Holiness, who decreed that the years would be named in order of who reached the bank first, then second, then third and so forth.

The Rat was the first to reach the other side of the river, so the Year of the Rat was named for it, though it had cheated by riding on the back of an Ox. The Rat was gravely afraid of the water. The Ox itself came second, so the second year of the cycle was subsequently the Year of the Ox. Soon after came the Rabbit, the Tiger, the Dragon, the Sheep, the Monkey touched dry land. Finally after many hours, the twelfth animal, Pig, lumbered ashore. The 12th year was named for our porky friend. The Cat would have been honoured with the thirteenth year, but alas, it was caught by the currents and washed up far downriver, having nearly drowned. Though Cat kept his nine lives, he lost his chance to be in the Chinese calendar.

It is widely acknowledged among Chinese astrologers that people born in particular years have certain common personality traits associated with the animal their year is named for. People born in the Year of the Snake (such as years 1977, 1953, 1989 and of course 2013) are said to be good mediators who are adept at sorting out problems in their home lives just as the Buddha resolved the argument of the assorted animals. Snakes are also great gatherers of possessions. They are motivated, cunning, brainy and wise.

Those babies born this year under the gaze of the Water Snake will likely grow up to be influential and able managers of people. They will be determined to achieve success and can be ruthless in that pursuit as far as colleagues and juniors at work are concerned. But with family and friends, Water Snakes will be kind and affectionate.


As with our previous wallpapers for festivals like Diwali and Christmas, the Half-Eaten Mind has opted for a GIF, or animated image that is vibrant and sparkly. Our colourfully traditional Chinese New Year image comes from the personal page of Kenneth Yee, an associate of the Penn State University in the United States. His page  – which can be accessed from the “Image Credit” link underneath this article – details the celebrations surrounding the New Year, listing particular activities that Chinese people might do on festivity days. The image however was originally created by, whose website sadly appears to be offline now.

The image shows a cherub-like couple dressed in Hanfu costume holding banners wishing good luck and prosperity upon viewers. The banners are in red, a very lucky colour for the Chinese. During the New Year, children are gifted small red and gold envelopes containing money, as a symbol of the care of elders and a sign of wealth for now and the future.

The Half-Eaten Mind wishes all our readers a very prosperous and joyous Chinese New Year…

GONG XI FA CAI (Mandarin)/GUNG HEI FAT CHOI (Cantonese)

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“The Chinese Years of the Animals” , Natasha, Storynory LINK 

“Chinese Horoscopes – The Snake” – The Wedding Planning Institute/Lovegevity Inc. LINK

“Chinese New Year Greetings” – Access Chinese/ Gestion M.R.P. LINK

“Chinese New Year Phrases” – Adam Sheik/”the ABC” , Learn Cantonese! (forums) LINK



“Chinese New Year” – Kenneth Yee, Pennsylvania State University (original source: LINK