Morning dance in an inner-city square, Xining, China

Xining is the provincial capital of Qinghai province in western China. Located at an high altitude (about 2,200 metres above sea level), the city is one of the most populous cities in the western region, having about 2.2 million residents by 2010. I had a chance to stay there for about one week as part of my field research in September 2008.

P1060270Among the many aspects of the city that caught my eyes during my stay, it was very interesting to see people of all ages and gender doing what appears to be a routine morning dancing exercise. Rotating a series of gestures and going around slowly in a circle, they all seemed to be quite well accustomed to the beats and melody, while not a single persons seemed to be hesistant about their moves.

I understand Chinese people are often seen early in the morning or (if in summer) late in the evening, indulging themselves in various group exercises such as Tai Chi and quite often, classic waltz, and I have seen many with my own eyes, but not to this scale. The entire plaza was filled with a number of small circles, repeating the same dance moves, and this was at around 8.30 am in the morning. It was actually quite enjoyable watching them, and made me feel like dancing (though didn’t have the nerve to join in…).

The plaza was one of the results of the city’s urban redevelopment projects in order to change the look of the city and attract more tourists, and apparently, the local citizens were ready to ‘occupy’ the space and spell out their own way of appropriating urban space.

Location: Xining, Qinghai Province, China (

Date: 20 September 2008

Urbanised Village and its Struggle to Survive



Urbanised villages in China refer to former rural villages that have been engulfed by urban expansion. Having lost farmlands, villagers invest heavily in dwellings to gain rental income from migrant tenants. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in China’s Pearl River Delta region. These villages struggle to resist impending threats of demolition, though they give in eventually one after another, as is the case seen in this picture.

(originally submitted to LSE Photo Prize 2012 competition and shortlisted)

Location: Xian Village, Guangzhou, China

Date: December 2011

Absorbed in her Study, Xining, China


While families in China struggle to provide education for their children, girls are more likely to fall behind boys in terms of receiving fair opportunities. While roadworks were going on in the entire section of this busy street located in the central district of Qinghai’s provincial capital Xining, this girl show how much she was determined and willing to commit to her study.

(originally submitted to LSE Photo Prize 2012)

Location: Xining, China
Date: September 2008

Child and Bamboo Stick



In this neighbourhood located in central Guangzhou, China, tensions are heightened due to impending demolition and residents’ displacement. For most local residents, continuing their lives after displacement becomes a real struggle, but for now, the child’s major concern is to get the paper-roll back on the ground.

(originally submitted to LSE Photo Prize 2012)

Location: Liwan District, Guangzhou, China

Date: September 2009

Charlton House, London

여름방학기간?? 학?? 가지 않? 때 가? 오후 시간? 보내는 곳. 옛날 지역?주가 거처하?, ?코뱅 Jacobean (제임스 6세 통치 당시, 16세기? – 17세기 초) 스타? 건축물?다. 19세기 중반? 발간? 것으로 보?는 어? 책? 소개? 스케치와 오늘날 사진? 대비해 보면 약간? 차?를 보?지만 잘 보존? 것? 알 수 있다. 좀 ? 최근? 지어진 것으로 보?는 건물 오른쪽 부?건물?는 ?서관? 있는?, 종종 무료 ?악회가 열리곤 한다. 낮1시? ?네 노?들? 주로 오는 듯한?, 지역주민들?게 ?미있는 문화행사? 듯 하다. 본 건물?는 까페가 있으며, ?본어를 가르치는 학?가 ?리잡고 있기? 하다. 

Charlton House 1858 - 2012

Charlton House in London as shown in a book published in 1858, and how it looks today. It’s a lovely local gem. The bottom image from 1858 comes from