Nicola Davison is a British freelance writer and editor based in London.
Thousands of Beijing's 'rat tribe' underground residents evicted

Thousands of Beijing’s ‘rat tribe’ underground residents evicted

Beijing’s government has evicted more than 120,000 people living underground in the city’s sprawling network of disused bomb shelters, state media reported. Dubbed the “rat tribe” by locals, an estimated one million people reside illegally in a warren of Cold War-era tunnels underneath China’s capital. But authorities have been clearing out residents over the past three years...
China struggles to loosen one-child policy as couples urged to apply for second child

China struggles to loosen one-child policy as couples urged to apply for second child

Shanghai’s government has urged couples to have more children after far fewer than expected applied to have a second child following the relaxation of China’s one-child policy, state media reported on Tuesday. Some 90 per cent of women of childbearing age in the city are eligible to have a second baby, but only five per...
Out of steppe: the $28bn plan to modernise Mongolia’s Ulan Bator

Out of steppe: the $28bn plan to modernise Mongolia’s Ulan Bator

In 1990 Enkhtuya Baatar was a nomadic herder living in Mongolia’s northern Bulgin province when, one day, wolves began picking off her sheep. When a bitter winter, known as a zud, killed her remaining livestock Baatar, now 55, had little choice but to pack up and move her husband and four children to Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s...
The party’s goal

The party’s goal

ONE of the most dismal days in the history of Chinese national football was June 15th 2013, President Xi Jinping’s 60th birthday. Having lost to Uzbekistan and Holland in friendly matches earlier that month, China were thrashed 5-1 at home by a Thai youth team. Furious Chinese fans swarmed around China’s Spanish coach, José Antonio...
Home truths

Home truths

THE most recent occasion when Ms Fan’s husband beat her until her eyes were black and blue was a row over 100 yuan ($16). Ms Fan, who did not want to reveal her full name, is a 37-year-old cleaner. She helped her husband deliver gas canisters on the outskirts of Shanghai but hid some of...
China's obsession with vertical cities

China’s obsession with vertical cities

In late September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a non-profit organisation that keeps the world’s largest database on skyscrapers, held its annual conference in Shanghai – two years after its last meeting there. “We’ve never done that before, gone back to the same city,” says Antony Wood, the council’s executive director. “But right...
China arrests 81-year-old writer critical of Communist Party

China arrests 81-year-old writer critical of Communist Party

An 81-year-old writer and vocal Communist Party critic has been formally charged by Beijing police, his wife and his lawyer said on Thursday, following his detention last month. Huang Zerong, known by his pen name Tie Liu, was charged with conducting illegal business activities and “provocation”, according to his wife, Ren Hengfang, 65. Mr Huang’s...
China executed '2,400' people in 2013

China executed ’2,400′ people in 2013

China is thought to have executed 2,400 people last year, roughly three times more than the rest of the world’s total, according to a US-based pressure group. The Dui Hua Foundation said the number of people executed in China, which accounts for one-fifth of the world’s population, has fallen annually over the past decade or...
The architectural firm with an alternative vision for rural China

The architectural firm with an alternative vision for rural China

John Lin stands on a remote mountainside in southwest China, a brick grasped in each hand. The one in his right, the 39-year-old architect explains, is the local standard. It costs Rmb0.45 ($0.07) and has a scorched surface with roughly hewn, crumbly edges. In his left hand is a clean, terracotta oblong with three penny-sized...
China’s ancient ‘porcelain capital’ embraces the 21st century

China’s ancient ‘porcelain capital’ embraces the 21st century

In April this year, a palm-sized porcelain cup from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong for $36m. The rooster and brown chickens painted on the side are cheerful enough. But what the collector understood well is the historical value of Chinese porcelain. Up until the 20th century, Chinese craftsmen produced...
Shaming an internet celebrity

Shaming an internet celebrity

GUO MEIMEI had often featured in Chinese media, but her appearance on China Central Television (CCTV) on August 4th was different. A gifted self-publicist, the 23-year-old had once liked to flaunt designer handbags, pose by Maseratis and post selfies from tropical locales on social media. The broadcast showed Ms Guo wearing an orange prison-vest. She is...
Drawing a line

Drawing a line

A FISHING barge strewn with what look like animal corpses occupies the atrium of Shanghai’s Power Station of Art (PSA). This macabre Noah’s Ark (pictured above) is the bleak vision of Cai Guo-Qiang, an avant-garde artist who enjoys government favour yet whose works sometimes explore controversial themes. His exhibition, “The Ninth Wave”, opened on August...