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beijing olympics preparation

People peer through a construction fence at a new "model hutong" constructed in advance of the Beijing Olympics

I just got back from a week in Beijing, documenting the city's preparation for the Summer Olympics. It's my third trip to China and my first time in the capital city. I came to the story with some mixed feelings about the direction of China's development. It's clear that the economic growth of the last ten years has made countless people's lives better throughout the country. Construction jobs have allowed for migrant workers to come to these urban areas and support whole families with the work they do building Beijing's skyscrapers and Olympics venues.

At the same time, I've seen firsthand the effects of unregulated environmental pollution that threaten to undercut the country's progress and that affect a large portion of the population on a regular basis. I remember one village I visited in a rural part of the Henan Province where they could no longer even come into contact with the river that ran through their village, as it would cause blisters on their skin, all due to a fertilizer company that dumped its production byproducts directly into the water.

How this all will shake out in the future is anyone's guess. It's clearly not in the best interest of many people for China to have a bad Olympics, but real human rights and environmental issues remain unaddressed and I'm often left with the feeling that China cares more about the appearance of cleaning up the environment and giving concessions to human rights than the actuality of it. With all that said, China remains an endlessly fascinating and dynamic subject that I hope to photograph for many years to come.