Yesterday, Bill Gates tweeted a stat from the book Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization, from historian Vaclav Smil that shows just how staggeringly fast China has grown: In a period of just three years, China used more concrete than the U.S. did in an entire century. From 1901-2000, despite building nationwide interstates, massive skyscrapers and infrastructure across the country, America used less concrete than China did in a single, three-year boom. Though Gates praises technology’s ability to create the modern lifestyle, China’s unprecedented quick growth has led to some experts pointing to environmental and safety concerns ... Discuss


At least 31 people were killed and nearly 100 injured during a series of explosions in a crowded market in the capital of the Xinjiang region of China this morning. A witness told CNN that many of the victims at the open-air shopping area were elderly: "It's mainly people coming to trade vegetables, especially the elderly who get up early and buy vegetables to cook.” Just before 8 a.m., two vehicles plowed into the market area, as passengers threw explosive devices out of the windows. Moments later, both SUVs exploded. It’s the latest in a series of recent attacks in the region, and comes just a day after 39 people were sentenced by local courts for "inciting violence."

Last month, Islamic separatist perpetrated a knife attack in the region, in which 79 people were injured and three died. Though it’s unclear who is behind the most recent attacks, some Chinese officials have blamed a group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement for recent violence. The E.T.I.M. is made up mostly by Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in the region, some of whom have complained about mistreatment from the Han Chinese people, who make up the majority of the population ... Discuss


A few weeks back, we posted a report about the Sanjiang church in China’s Zhejiang province, which was the site of a massive, days-long protest by local Christians seeking to save it from demolition. However, according to The Telegraph, the country’s Communist government began destroying the multi-million dollar house of worship this week. Though hundreds of Christians had formed an around-the-clock human shield to protect their church, after a negotiation between government officials and church leaders appeared to formalize, many returned home. According to the paper though, “that deal appears to have broken down in recent days with reports that some church leaders and worshippers had been harassed and detained by security agents and officials.”

Yesterday, “around 100” police officers surrounded the structure as demolition crews began destroying the church, which is home to a growing Christian community in the region. Though Chinese officials claim that the move was due to structural issues, many others say it underscores the government’s increasing hostility to the growing influence of Christianity throughout the country. In an interview, Christian activist Bob Fu told The Telegraph, “This government-orchestrated barbaric forced demolition represents a serious escalation against religious freedom in Zhejiang. The Chinese regime chooses to disregard its own laws and the will of its best citizens" ... Discuss


According to research from Purdue University professor Fenggang Yang, within less than a generation, China could be home to more Christians than any nation on earth. Though officially, the communist country of 1.3 billion is atheist, Christianity has spread so rapidly, that by 2030, it could be home to more than 247 million Christians. In an interview with The Telegraph, Prof. Yang noted that the country’s Protestant churches had just one million members in 1949; in 2010, that number was 58 million. Many of those attend unsanctioned, “underground” house churches in an effort to avoid government oversight. Catholicism is also growing in China. The Telegraph report showed that beyond just church-going, interest in Christianity is on the rise throughout the country. The story notes that, “A recent study found that online searches for the words ‘Christian Congregation’ and ‘Jesus’ far outnumbered those for ‘The Communist Party’ and ‘Xi Jinping’, China's president.” Prof. Yang told the paper, “Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It's ironic—they didn't. They actually failed completely" ... Discuss


Hundreds of Christians in the Chinese city of Wenzhou—which is known as “the Jerusalem of the East” for its large religious population—are mounting a round-the-clock human shield at a church to protect it from being bulldozed by Communist government officials. In red paint, the government, which is officially atheist, wrote the words “Illegal construction" and “demolish” on the outside of the new $4.8 million church last week. Since then, droves of Christians have stationed themselves at the church and are refusing to move. According to The Telegraph:

By day, Christians from around the province crowd the church's steps, with undercover security agents mingling among them, snapping photos and eavesdropping. By night, hundreds of worshippers take it in turns to keep watch, grabbing a few hours of sleep on cramped wooden pews between shifts.

Though the Chinese government has long taken issue with underground Christian communities that refuse to comply with state rules, the church in Wenzhou is actually a part of the officially sanctioned Protestant denomination. A local government representative told a Telegraph reporter that the multi-million dollar structure—which took six years to build—was “structurally unsound”. According to the paper though, the massive and influential Christian church has drawn the ire of local Communist officials. In the province of Zhejiang (which has seven million residents) where Wenzhou is located, nearly 15% of the population is church-going Christians ... Discuss


Here are some amazing images of China’s ice city, created as part of the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Temperatures in the area drop as low as -36 degrees in the winter, but that won’t stop nearly 1 million visitors from touring the 6.5 million square foot frozen city made entirely from ice and LED lights. The attraction features ice-sculpted replicas of famous buildings from around the world including the Empire State Building and Iceland’s Hallgrimskirkja church ... Discuss