Never Alone

Tinny flute music pipes from a boombox in the park. Eight Chinese men and women move their arms and legs vigorously to the recorded exercise instructions. It’s 6 a.m. on the shores of Houhai Lake in Beijing, and the Chinese people rise early. None of the citizens stretching and bending in the yellow morning light look a day under 70.

A Chinese man sets up his fishing gear at the edge of the lake to catch an early fish or two, while people run, walk, and stroll past him. Although the sun has just risen, it’s already business as usual in the public spaces of Beijing.

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