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Nisse: A different kind of order of magnitude

In Beijing we will be staying in luxury, in a hotel that smells of lightly faded luxury, where a kind of partikoryféisk öststatskänsla manages to linger despite an abnormally expensive souvenir shop, two different frukostrestauranger to choose from and a foyer built on to the new function from day to day: separate room with a stage when we arrive in the deserted lobby bar the day after, check-in for the big conference when we have to say goodbye.

Then, too, a new, temporary safety gate uppsmälld, with tight guards which scans all the inpasserande and their luggage.

a bunch of excited young people, where two women are in the grandiose traditional dress. We wonder what type of party they come from, but a moment later, they stand and wait for the same elevators that we, on the way to one of all the assembly halls, where any event is in progress.

It is the old diplomatic district and just a short stroll away is tiananmen square, yet the view is far from straightforward. Opposite is the large, inconspicuous höghusfasader, which in a 70-talsförort.

Solid chinese well do not look at all like that. The priority is instead huge seriehus of about thirty or thirty-five-story, cast in the same vague white form and exhibited in clusters of ten, twenty, thirty at a time.

from Shanghai, we see them all the time, first while the city is about to end, then as incredibly dense as a result of other cities with the same cluster of anonymous skyscrapers. The fast train keeps close to 300 kilometres an hour, but glides so peacefully the past, a humble landscape in which these high-rise residential construction are so numerous that other urban buildings are becoming a sort of sideshow.

Strange furthermore, many are not ready yet, but are to be built, with giant cranes and giant sheets to cover parts of the building. The others look so new and empty as if no one yet has managed to move into (even if it is difficult to determine at the hold).

And I think of Sweden's old miljonprogram, how small it seems in a country where more than a hundred cities have over a million inhabitants. What we are seeing built is more like a miljardprogram, and I can't even imagine how many people – with individual ows – as soon shall fill these similar neighbourhoods anywhere on the central china plain.

Read more causeries of the Nisse, for example, about how lost one can become in the middle of a city, surrounded by people.

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