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January 3rd 2016
Published: January 3rd 2016
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First walk around city. Most street signs are in both Chinese and English.
Antarctic is done for the time being. Someday I may try to go back to that type of life and travels. But now a new adventure awaits me. It took two years and a forest of paperwork, but now I have a job working as support staff at the American Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Ive been in country for seven weeks now on the start of a two year contract. Every weekend I explore the sights, sounds, culture and people of this marvelous city. My current photos are listed by city location and month taken.

My first two+ months, I walked every where, but now that my bicycle has arrived I get to see much more of the city of Guangzhou and surrounding area. Some people place a stuffed critter of one kind or another in their photos; however in many of my photos one will see my bicycle, which I used to get to that particular location.

Many of the photos shown are in the same general area, but may have been taken months apart. The order of the photos may not be in the same order they were taken or even in the same season. Some photos
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Posters are put up around construction zones. A few of them advertise businesses, while other show photos or paintings of sights around the city or country.
may show and exact date, while others may show just a month or a season.


1. Rights Campaigners’ Family Members Intimidated

Guangdong authorities continue harassing and intimidating family members of prominent human rights campaigner and musician Xu Lin and Liu Sifang. Xu Lin’s family members are incommunicado. Police installed security surveillance camera at the doorway of Liu Sifang’s house. Police also told the family members not to hire defense attorneys since the government would appoint pro bono lawyers for Xu and Liu. Police picked up Xu and Liu on September 26 after they posted their newly composed prodemocracy songs including “Everyone has a ballot”, and “Withstand Justice”. (Radio Free Asia, October 12, )

2. “It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure.”

If you get into a bicycle accident with an auto, get yourself to the sidewalk, as far from the road as fast as possible.

It seems like a crazy urban legend: In China, drivers who have injured pedestrians or bicycle riders will sometimes then try to kill them. And yet not only is it true, it’s fairly common; security cameras
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Karl admiring a nice construction poster.
have regularly captured drivers driving back and forth on top of victims to make sure that they are dead. The Chinese language even has an adage for the phenomenon: “It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure.”

In China the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small—amounts typically range from $30,000 to $50,000—and once payment is made, the matter is over. By contrast, paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor can run into the millions.

3. PRC (China) Driver’s Licence Points System

China operates a 12 point system to manage driver’s traffic violations. A clean PRC licence has 12 points; deductions occur if a driver is caught breaking traffic laws. The following deductions are given for common traffic violations:

• Three points are given for exceeding a speed limit or ignoring traffic lights
• One or two points for driving without a seatbelt
• Between 6 and 12 points for driving drunk. It is against the law to drive after consuming alcohol or taking banned drugs

Should an individual lose all 12 points in
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A closeup of a construction poster showing a painting of the Pearl River.
one year they must take a class to re-learn all the road rules and sit a test.

However, there is a black market for points. One can purchase another persons points to be used on their own license.

4. Too get a License in China

Actually getting a regular license may be quite complicated.First, there is a computerized theory test of 100 out of over 1300 multiple choice questions with 90%!a(MISSING)s a pass mark; if you do not pass, you can do a second test without paying any further fee. In major cities, these tests are available in multiple languages. In smaller places, the officials may insist you do it in Chinese. Some allow you to bring a translator; others do not. It is common that besides just translating, the translator will dictate you correct answers and expect a small fee of not more than 100 yuan.Generally, but not always, you are excused from the actual driving test if you have a foreign license.Then their is the physical every one must take.However, if you are a member of a consulate or embassy the 100 question theory test and actual driving test is not needed.

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One of many streams through out the city of Guangzhou. They may look nice, but the smell is not the greatest.

5. Traffic in China

Traffic in much of China is chaotic at best. One should not expect vehicles to stop at red lights, as motorcycles and bicycles regularly go through red lights without slowing down. Also, do not expect vehicles to go with traffic, as cars, motorcycles, and bicycles regularly go against the flow of traffic (e.g. going southbound in a northbound lane). Furthermore, do not expect only pedestrians on sidewalks, as motorcycles and bicycles (and the occasional four-wheel vehicle) regularly zip along the sidewalk as if it is just another lane on the road. Also, watch out for and safely take pictures of people on silent electric motorcycles who do not even slow down at red lights, with cigarette in mouth, one hand on the steering handle, and the other with a cell phone, talking, and beeping at the pedestrian walking with a green walk signal, for getting in the motorcyclist's way. However, with all this, and not to condone this type of road behavior, there are fewer accidents than one may expect given this chaos, mainly because people most
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A group of construction posters with some high rises in the background.
often do slow down if they see you.

6. Driving rules in China Do not assume that Chinese drivers will follow any rule you know. The rule is much more that they care only for their own vehicle. Foreign drivers must try to adapt to this (or, perhaps more sensibly, give up and take taxis or hire a driver). You do not have to learn to drive like a Chinese, but at least you should not be surprised when they do. There is absolutely no point getting angry if someone cuts you off or drives against the red light or on the wrong side of the road. You simply yield and carry on as if nothing had happened.Another way to look at it is that there are only two rules you must obey, both equally important. Don't hit anything, and don't get hit by anything.

The concept of right-of-way is quite different in China than in many other countries. "First is Right," or less succinctly, any vehicle with a slight position lead or access to a gap before another vehicle has de-facto right of way to enter that gap. This essentially allows for any driver the habit

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Most vehicle bridges, and over road walkways have assorted plants and flowers planted on, around and near them.
of cutting right out into the traffic flow forcing the opposing vehicle to either stop or crash. This rule applies to lane changes too that can come at anytime from any angle. Be alert to brake at any moment! If you do not force your way in, you will not ever be allowed to enter the flow of traffic at busy sections.

The general rule appears to be keep moving no matter what. Cutting people off, swerving into the oncoming lane, driving on the shoulder, or in a fenced-off bicycle lane, or the wrong way down a divided highway are all fine as long as they keep you moving in the right general direction and do not cause an immediate accident. It is even fairly common to see cars, trucks and motorcycles all on the sidewalk along with pedestrians and bikes all going their own separate ways! Taxis are the worst offenders.

Merging: Vehicles depart from intersections, side streets, alleys and parking lots, merging onto any road without yielding to traffic already underway on that road (and often apparently without a glance at oncoming traffic). If the merging driver can reach any opening in traffic, the oncoming
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Guangzhou could be called the city of flowers.
cars are expected to yield and allow the merge.

Lane changes: Lane changes and turns are more often than not signaled, but then the "first is right" rule reigns, and yielding is expected of a trailing vehicle, even if only trailing by a small margin. Imagine where the collision dent will be: if someone enters your lane and you strike the side of their vehicle, it will be assumed that you failed to yield even though they cut you off.

Left turns: At intersections, upon a red-to-green light change, vehicles intending to turn left across straight-through traffic will usually enter the intersection to accomplish their turn before straight-through traffic can proceed. Allowing the turning vehicles to complete the maneuver is the best practice. Such turns are aided by the yellow-before-green traffic light sequence common in China. Furthermore, observe this protocol and use a red-to-green light change as de facto left turn arrow. If possible use a leading turning vehicle as a shield. Be aware that vehicles behind you (using you as a shield) will often try to veer to either side of you, completing their turn without regard for your situation.

As always, "first is right"; trailing
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A below the road crosswalk. Some are open to the sky, while others are completely under the intersections.
traffic is expected to yield. In other words, a "new" green light is usually regarded as a "left arrow".

Regarding left-hand turns in general; a vehicle desiring to turn left across oncoming traffic will not yield to oncoming, established traffic and await a "safe" opening. Any opening may be exploited, the required minimum size of the opening apparently depends on the left turning driver's sense of self-preservation (larger vehicles and poorer quality vehicles will take more chances). Oncoming vehicles that slow in wariness of a possible ill-advised turn, will often prompt the turning driver to commit. Oncoming drivers are advised to continue without pause, while preparing for heavy braking or lane changes to accommodate the turner.

Car-pedestrian interactions are complicated; ubiquitous pedestrians, bikes, and cycles, often acting negligent or even oblivious toward surrounding traffic, are generally considered to have possessed Right of Way in any collision between them and a vehicle. If a larger vehicle strikes a pedestrian or rider, the larger vehicle will generally be assumed liable. Bearing that in mind, vehicles will use their speed and security advantage, and often the horn, to maneuver through even densely occupied crossings. Aware pedestrians will generally expect a vehicle
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A closeup of the library with sky scrapers nearby.
will force through a walk way, and are often confused if the vehicle halts to allow them passage. Painted cross walks (white bars painted on road ways) are not typically observed as "pedestrian protected" areas, but woe to a driver who strikes a pedestrian there. Never assume a driver will actually stop for you at a marked crossing. Drivers will actually push anything in front of them off the sidewalk or side of the road, it is assumed you will move out of their way.

Running Red Lights: Chinese drivers routinely go through red lights if there is no opposing traffic. Pedestrians do not count as traffic; just honk at them to get out of the way or swerve around them. It is also moderately common to run red lights even in the presence of other traffic. The only places where this does not apply is if a visible road-rule enforcement camera is seen, or if the police is around. Even here, the law does actually permit emergency vehicles to run red lights as well, but most suspects not on duty will also include government and military vehicles, and even diplomats!

Two-way traffic everywhere: Bicycles and
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The library with plenty of green space surrounding it.
motorcycles and sometimes cars ignore one-way signs. On divided highways, seeing pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles going the wrong way down the shoulder is entirely normal, and a few go the wrong way beside the center fence. At traffic circles (roundabouts), drivers hate going around the island in the middle if they can avoid it; they will often just swing left instead. Lane markings are also routinely ignored; for example, taxis often go straight through an intersection via a lane marked as left turn only, because that gets them past other cars.

Overtaking on the right, despite being illegal, is very common in China. One reason is that slow vehicles often drive in the center lane of multi-lane roads, If you find yourself behind such a vehicle and want to pass on the right, be alert for anything from motorcycles to horse-drawn carts in the right lane.

8. Politics In China

How Will China Select Its New Leaders At Its Communist Party Congress?


Preparations for a major shakeup of China's Communist Party leadership are all but complete, ahead of a national congress that begins in Beijing on Wednesday. President Xi Jinping, the party
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Shopping below ground level in the Mall of the World.
boss, is expected to cement his already considerable power and embark on a second five-year term.

Last Saturday, in an auditorium bedecked with red flags and hammer-and-sickle emblems, the party's outgoing central committee members raised their hands in unison to approve the congress's final preparations.

China Has Set Oct. 18 For Its Communist Party Congress. Here's What To Expect

Beijing's streets are lined with security personnel, and police have hustled dissidents out of town on enforced "vacations" ahead of the country's most important political event.

Held every five years, the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is a piece of political theater that University of Victoria political scientist Wu Guoguang describes as being at once "holy" and "hollow."

When it comes to understanding exactly how the leader of the world's most populous nation is chosen, "In fact, nobody knows," Wu says. "It's jungle politics," he adds. "The party does not play the game by its own rules."

According to the Communist Party's charter, China's nearly 90 million party members select nearly 2,300 delegates, who in turn vote for a roughly 200-member central committee. That committee then elects a 25-odd-member Politburo, a standing committee having between five and nine members and the party's general secretary or top leader.

But in fact, "The election
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Green space and stream with multi-colored Koi swimming at the north end of the Mall of the World.
is a formality," Wu says. "The positions are decided in advance of the congress." Then they're given to the delegates to rubber-stamp.

The actual selection of the party leadership, Wu adds, is done "in a black box" behind closed doors.

In other words, while power appears to flow from the bottom up, it actually goes from the top down.

Experts' best guess, Wu says, is that around 20 people, including serving and retired members of the Politburo standing committee, bargain in secret to decide the next leader several months before the congress.

In theory, the national congress is the party's highest organ of power. But Wu, the author of China's Party Congress: Power, Legitimacy, and Institutional Manipulation, who helped draft political reforms for the late Chinese Premier and Communist Party boss Zhao Ziyang, says that the leadership has many ways to manipulate the institution to make sure nobody it dislikes is ever nominated — much less elected.

One such device is a sort of straw poll or dry run ahead of the congress, so that leaders can sniff out and neutralize opposition to their preferred candidates.

The selection process is full of uncertainty, says Wu.
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Just outside of the Guangzhou East Railroad Station. This is the station one goes to in order to travel to Hong Kong. The IKEA store is only a block from the station.
This uncertainty may be behind the event's massive security operations, to which "every blade of grass, every tree looks like an enemy soldier," as the old Chinese saying goes.

Part of the problem is that so many successions under communist rule have ended in failure. Three of Mao Zedong's anointed heirs, Liu Shaoqi, Lin Biao and Hua Guofeng, were purged or sidelined.

Liu was purged and persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and died in 1969. Lin died in a 1971 plane crash, after an alleged failed coup attempt. Hua served as party chairman for five years until Deng Xiaoping pushed him aside in 1981.

During the 1980s, supreme leader Deng sacked two of his appointed successors in a row, ostensibly because they were soft on dissent.

Experts point out that China has neither a hereditary dynasty nor competitive elections. To restore a semblance of order to the leadership selection process in the years following the June 4, 1989, massacre near Tiananmen Square, the party established some unwritten rules or norms to govern it.

The most important of these is an informal rule that Politburo standing committee members must retire at age 68.

But experts
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Karl enjoying a sunny day.
believe that Xi is not satisfied with the informal rules and intends to bend, break or scrap them altogether.

And if there is any unwritten rule experts say Xi cannot tolerate, it is one that could hinder his ability to designate his own successor. In Chinese politics, this is a guarantee of a retired leader's survival and continuing behind-the-scenes influence.

Years ago, supreme leader Deng is believed to have anointed two of Xi's predecessors. They in turn apparently designated two men, Sun Zhengcai and Hu Chunhua, as Xi's possible successors.

But in July, Sun was sacked for corruption and violating party discipline as party boss of southwest China's Chongqing city, and Xi signaled that he would not accept anyone else's choice as his heir. Hu remains in place, at least for now.

Mao, Deng and many Chinese emperors centuries before them essentially ruled until they died. China's Constitution mandates a two-term limit for its presidents, but there are no term limits for party leaders, who are above the president.

Xi serves as president, party leader and head of the military. During his first term, he outdid his predecessors with tough crackdowns on both dissent and
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Looking south from the eastern railroad station.
official corruption at home along with a muscular military posture to back up China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and the China-India border. Experts expect more of the same from a second Xi term.

Xi is not the first to challenge the party's informal leadership succession rules. Bo Xilai, a flamboyant politician who also served as Chongqing party boss, questioned personnel arrangements for the 18th party congress in 2012, as he sought to enter the leadership's top ranks. He challenged the leadership lineup — which included Xi — that was decided by Xi's predecessors. The following year, Bo was sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor Ding Xueliang argues that Xi has wanted to overhaul the succession process for years, especially since Bo's challenge.

"Even now," Ding says, "Xi still talks about the 'residual toxic influence' of Bo Xilai in Chongqing," presumably a reference to the fact that some of Bo's allies or subordinates remain in positions of power.

Indeed, Xi has spent much of his first term getting rid of the masses of bureaucrats installed by, and still loyal to, his predecessors, lest they rebel or obstruct the implementation of his policies.

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Many posters around the city for the new Star Wars movie. It will start showing here in China on 9 January 2016.
reflects the fact, Ding observes, that personal ties remain paramount in Chinese politics and bureaucrats tend to "obey those who appointed them."

Communist personnel policies, Ding notes, make it hard to sack bureaucrats before they retire, and the bureaucrats are not subject to much independent oversight.

Ding argues that Xi has used his mass anti-corruption campaign as a tool to knock out not just rival politicians and obstinate bureaucrats but also party congress delegates. He notes that Chairman Mao did the same during the 1966-1975 Cultural Revolution.

At the 19th party congress, experts will be looking at several key details. Here are some of the questions they are asking:

Will Xi show any indication that he might seek a third term as president, beginning in 2022? Or will he retire from his party and government posts but hang on as military chief, as some of his predecessors have done?

Will Wang Qishan, Xi's 69-year-old right-hand man and anti-corruption czar, retain his job? He is already past the age after which no party leaders are supposed to be appointed to new positions, according to an informal rule. Will Xi change his job title from general secretary of the
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Tee Mall, a few days before christmas 2015. It is one of Guangzhou's leading shopping malls and is known as the "Saloon of Guangzhou". It has 160,000 m2 of space; seven floors; Parking for 3,000 cars in its below ground parking area. It even has a Metro station in the basement so it is easy to get to from anywhere in the city.
Communist Party to chairman, the title Mao used?

Will Xi name a successor during the party congress?

Will Xi's ideas be written into the party charter as "Xi Thought" or "Xi Theory," as were the ideas of Mao and Deng? Or will his ideas be written into the charter without Xi's name, as was the case with Xi's two less powerful immediate predecessors?

If Xi breaks the informal rules, observes Ding, the Hong Kong professor, it's not clear what new ones he might replace them with.

And maybe it doesn't matter. Neither formal nor informal rules have done much to constrain China's leaders. Deng famously remained paramount leader in retirement with no higher official title than honorary chairman of the China Bridge Association.

Political arrangements in China are rarely explicit, Ding muses. "After thousands of years of Chinese politics, rulers have developed innumerable methods to get what they want," he says. "It's never so simple."

Additional photos below
Photos: 570, Displayed: 36


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In anticipation of the upcoming Star War movie, there is a full scale TIE Fighter parked outside the entrance of the TEE mall.
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A night shot of the city on Christmas Eve from the Mall of the World. It is a big open space in the center of the city, having streams, greenery, park benches and lots of walking areas.
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The Guangzhou city library. What a place. The 4th floor has lots of english books. My first book i checked out is the Tom Clancy novel "The Teeth of the Tiger". For more info, please check out:

3rd January 2016
Guangzhou- Nov. 2015

Looks beautiful.... Happy to hear that you are enjoying it there. :) Happy New Year!! Di & Joe
18th August 2016

Silly Submariner
I hope that you are doing very well in Guangzhou and you have fully acclimated. Enjoy yourself there. Extremely hot in Lewis County this summer and very humid. We have had a "drought" and tornado this summer. The corn still grows. Take care. Derek
24th August 2016

So great to hear from you and about your amazing adventures! I'm now a subscriber to your blog so keep it up!

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