The opium wars (1838-40 and 1956-60) marked the start of China's century of humiliation. Britain's refusal to stop importing opium was the initial event. Even though opium had been used in China for centuries the British variety was much more potent and addictive. Opium was cheap as supply by ship made it more economic to transport. British threats were not taken very seriously until it was far too late when Nanjing came under threat of bombardment. The second war, carried out jointly with the French opened up many more coastal ports for trade with Europe and America. Read More
As a considerable proportion of China is swathed in toxic smog planners are considering how to combat the problem. One proposed solution is to move people and businesses away from the suburbs of Beijing into outlying districts. The move would give people shorter commutes and lower the density of people in polluted areas. In the last 18 years energy consumption has doubled and the number of cars tripled (Oh for the Halcyon days of bicycles)! The long term plan is for Beijing's population to be capped at 23 million.