China: Country Pulse (June 2010)

by the Countries and Consumers team.

Hot topics in June 2010:

  • “Mini-Melbourne” for China.
  • Electric taxis hit the
  • Drinking urine for health anyone?

“Mini-Melbourne” for China

With the Chinese population moving to urban areas at an unprecedented rate, architecture firm Architektonic has developed a master plan to build what is being described as a ”mini-Melbourne” next to an artificial lake outside Tianjin in the northeast of the country. The proposed development would house 20,000 people in an area covering 900,000 square metres.

Its centrepiece would be a Melbourne-style shopping and leisure hub. ”The developer wants to capitalise on the strengths of Melbourne and to recreate its lifestyle,” says Architektonic director Joburt Betadam. Pitched at the country’s rising middle class, the proposal embraces environmentally sustainable practices, including buildings with five- or six-star green ratings. Construction is due to begin later this year.

Electric taxis hit the road

Forty all-electric taxis, believed to be the first to go into service in China, have been officially unveiled in the southern city of Shenzhen. Shenzhen Bus Group and BYD, the manufacturer of the cars, plan to have 100 of the zero-emissions vehicles on the city’s roads by the end of June. “If all-electric taxis could be promoted across China, it would greatly improve the air quality in major cities,” says Huang Yonghe, an expert at the China Automobile Technology and Research Centre.

Drinking urine for health anyone?

The quest for health and beauty has enticed many Chinese consumers into trying bizarre food and drinks, but none stranger than the newest ‘health product’ being peddled by online shops, the urine of infant boys. Said to be “melamine free,” online sellers claim that boys’ urine can treat a variety of illnesses, even cancer.

“The baby is 10 months old and fed with breast milk. The mother and the baby are living in the countryside where the air is fresh and not polluted,” writes Dong Jianyong, who runs an online shop called dy99hyn. The drink costs RMB1,999 (US$292) for 30 millilitres at his shop. Doctors, meanwhile, say such ‘tonics’ can be detrimental to health.