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China café

My new neighbour holds a meeting for local officials—and pulls off an eco-triumph. The diesel wars are hotting up. Plus, I won't be mentioning a certain province

By Mark Kitto   May 2008

Answering the call of nature

Dinner banquets with government and party officials in rural China usually involve heavy drinking, chain smoking, at least one unpalatable local specialty, and conversation about money. So when my new South African friend and neighbour Grant invited me for a dinner with the local party secretary, the mayor and others, I was in two minds about accepting. When he told me the dinner was a pretext for a meeting about environmental issues, I started thinking up excuses. In the end, I decided to go out of curiosity.

Grant owns a number of farmhouses just…

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