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Where Avatar meets Jurassic Park

Used as the inspiration for the scenery in Avatar, Zhangjiajie is otherworldly in more ways than one – the scenery for sure, but also the sheer alien orderliness

Zhangjiajie: Fantasy rock formations

Anyone who has seen the 3D fantasy Avatar will feel strangely at home when entering the alien landscape of Zhangjiajie (“Zhang Family Homeland”). The sandstone rock formations, including around 3,000 pillars, tower into the clouds and look spectacular in all seasons, as screens and posters around the national park insist.

After getting off a minibus from Zhangjiajie City bus station, we would soon discover how the reserve is remarkable not just for the scenery, but, well, for its infrastructure. Anyone who’s visited big tourist sites in China may have felt more overwhelmed by the crowds and chaos, the loudspeakers and sense of panic than the majesty of anything Ming dynasty. Zhangjiajie, in contrast, has made some bold moves to tackle people flow that make it surprisingly pleasant.

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About China Report

The Belt and Road forum held in Beijing in May heralds China's strategy of globalisation 2.0. How much China has invested in the BRI? How can other countries along the routes join in and benefit from the opportunities? (p.20-25) Technologically China has often been perceived as playing the catch-up game. Not in Artificial Intelligence, which the country's tech giants are spearheading with some success. (p. 34-43) A migrant worker has taken the country by storm in her Dickensian essay about her hard life in modern Beijing. (p.52-55)