Monthly Archives: February 2019

Daxing International Airport

Aerial views of Daxing’s 1.03-million-square-meter terminal, the largest of its kind in the world. Photos: Xinhua, Handouts

Beijing’s “Daxing International Airport” is set to be world’s “largest and busiest” airport when its one-million-square-meter terminal will have 268 jet way bridges serving 100 million passengers a year.

Situated 46 kilometers south of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, “Daxing International Airport” is set to serve the Chinese capital and its sprawling conurbation in neighboring Hebei and Tianjin.

The inner view of a terminal hall of the new Daxing International Airport under construction during a government-organized media tour on the outskirts of Beijing, China August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

In only four years, 10,000 workers have turned large swathes of fallow wasteland into the nation’s newest “aviation hub” covering an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan.

When an inauguration flight takes off from Daxing’s cobweb of runways  at the end of September it will open the 80 billion yuan (US$11.8 billion), 47-square-kilometer airport and set into motion China’s lavish celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Communist Republic.

Inner views of Daxing’s massive terminal hall under construction on the outskirts of Beijing. Photos: Reuters, Xinhua

Daxing’s six-runway configuration, plus a 1.03-million-square-meter terminal with 268 jet way bridges, is billed as the world’s largest and will dwarf Beijing’s existing Capital International Airport, which has three runways.

Within five to seven years, Daxing will handle 100 million passengers per year, alleviating persistent overcrowding and flight delays at her sister airport, according to Xinhua.

Daxing may thus handle more passengers than any other airport across the globe, wrestling away the crown of the world’s busiest airport from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the US.

Daxing’s colossal terminal is a web of concrete, rebar and glass with a central atrium cum security check hall, five curved spokes as well as five outdoor gardens at the end of the five semi-transparent wings.

It is one of the last works of the late architect Zaha Hadid. But despite its vast size, Daxing’s operator has promised short walking distances, aided by automatic people movers and clear signage.

It is said that to get from the central security check to the farthest gate in each wing will involve a journey of no more than 600 meters.

Beijing cadres hope Daxing will assist in shaking off the capital’s miserable reputation for clogged transportation to and from its airports: construction of high-speed rail lines for bullet trains, metro lines as well as expressways built to serve Daxing have kept pace with the airport project itself and will open to traffic on schedule.

Daxing will serve as a hub for Sky Team alliance airlines including China Eastern Airlines, Taiwan’s China Airlines, Delta, Air France, KLM and Korean Air, while Star Alliance members will remain at the existing Capital Airport.

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China’s Seasonal Spring Rush

Throngs of passengers are seen inside the main concourse of Shenzhen’s North Railway Station during “Chunyun”. Photo: Baycrest/WikiMedia

New technology is here to “ease” China’s seasonal “Spring Rush” as three billion trips are expected prior to and during this year’s “Lunar New Year” break.

“Chūnyùn,” also referred to as the “Spring Festival” travel season, is a period of travel in China with extremely high “traffic” load around the time of the “Chinese New Year.”

The period usually begins 15 days before Lunar New Year’s Day and lasts for around 40 days.

The number of passenger-journeys during the “Chūnyùn” period is projected to be hitting over 2.9 billion. It has been called the largest “annual human migration” in the world.

Bullet trains parked at a marshaling yard in central China’s Wuhan. Photo: Xinhua

Rail transport experiences the biggest challenge during the period, and myriad social problems have emerged.

Facial and voice recognition, robots, augmented reality navigation and other novel technologies are tapped to come into operation for safety and crowd control, when some three billion trips are made in China prior to and during this year’s Lunar New Year break, which begins on February 5.

Stations and airports throughout the nation typically struggle with the sudden spike in passenger numbers during the annual Spring Festival travel rush.

A passenger goes through a gate installed with a facial recognition system at Wuhan Railway Station in central China. Photo: Xinhua

Xinhua news agency has reported that China Railway Corp has launched a trial scheme to deploy robots as well as a turn-by-turn augmented reality (AR) app at major national transport nodes.

These include Guangzhou’s South Railway Station, Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station and Shenzhen’s North Railway Station, where the new technology is there to help passengers navigate inside the massive railway hubs to their desired platforms for boarding.

Facial recognition and ID card readers have replaced manual ticket inspection at more stations this year: passengers only need to swipe their tickets and ID cards on a scanner for access to platforms, and it takes just two to ten seconds to go through the turnstiles.

Scenes from 40 years of China’s annual “Chūnyùn”…

Long queues inside ticketing halls are but a memory, now that buying tickets means a few taps on your smartphone, with payments made via WeChat pay and Alipay using your fingerprint or even face to establish your identity.

Even the hated, formerly ever-present “ticket scalpers” are no more.

Some stations now support QR code-based e-tickets to save time and trees.

At Beijing’s airport, facial recognition software provided by Baidu has been in place since 2018 to help passengers reach their flights more quickly.

Everyone is safe but under scrutiny as they travel on China’s bullet trains on the nation’s sprawling 29,000 kilometers of high-speed rail routes.

The same goes for the nation’s growing passenger jet fleet, all equipped with high-definition CCTV cameras.

One of China Railway Corp’s train operation central centers. Photos: Handout, WeChat

Citing a cadre with China Railway Corp, People’s Daily even brags that the rail operator’s NASA-like control and coordination center in Beijing can monitor almost each and every train in motion throughout the country with real-time data including speed and route.

One of China Railway Corp’s train operation central centers. Photos: Handout, WeChat

A train conductor at the marshaling center can even call a driver via the network’s tailor-made communications system.

Uber-like Chinese carpooling and car renting “DiDi” apps will take care of the last part of your journey, from major stations to your home.

Nowadays even such localized transportation depends upon powerful big data and data crunching algorithms to dispatch drivers and cars according to train schedules and real time passenger flows, thanks to data sharing deals inked with railway operators.

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The Deaf People

It’s a common misconception that Deaf people can easily relate to the culture in which they live. However, even though Deaf might share religious traditions, clothing styles, and cultural tendencies with people in their communities, they find more common ground with other Deaf people—even with those not from their home culture.

Around the globe, Deaf communities have distinct cultures and sign languages, but they share one great need: they need the gospel. Historically, there weren’t many opportunities to meet that need.

One worker remembers driving home from church with her father a number of years ago—both heartbroken after learning there weren’t options for her father, who is Deaf, to be involved in international missions.

We’re happy to say this is no longer the case. The opportunities are limitless for Deaf and hearing men and women to bring the gospel to Deaf who have never seen the name of Jesus signed in their language.

The gospel is for all people, and the Great Commission is for every believer, both hearing and Deaf.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV

The IMB’s heart is set on sending missionaries to serve among the Deaf.

“I can’t do this. This is out of reach for me to do this. I am not skillful. Why did you choose me to be part of this team and to have a burden for Central Asia?” This is what Gretchen Snow* thought, but she was wrong, very wrong. (*name changed)

God revealed to her a simple fact: “He has a plan, without mistake, for her to be part of this journey.” He placed wonderful people on the team that she works with. They are like family, and it is a huge blessing, more than what she imagined. It is his. They are helping each other in his kingdom, and they are ready to harvest Deaf Central Asians for his kingdom. Gretchen is looking forward to what he has in store for the Deaf people of Central Asia.

A Central Asian friend invited Gretchen Snow to travel to her hometown in Central Asia and meet with Deaf for a weekend. It was a very fast trip, and they had a good time. Several Deaf are interested in learning more about the Savior and the Good News, and it’s possible for Gretchen to make future trips to that city.

She spent time sharing God’s stories with Deaf until late into the night, and she attended tea/coffee socials. Gretchen shares: “Their culture loves to have quality time with each other and to have a tea/coffee social with sweets for four to six hours. I sat on the circle bench, watching the Deaf converse in their beautiful sign language. This was a wonderful opportunity. There is a large Deaf population in this small city, and a lot of needs exist there. I already witnessed that they are full of loss and anger or shame.”

A Deaf women’s group that she met provide a strong Deaf core, and they have generations of Deaf families. They taught her the local sign language very well, and she is beginning to understand it and use it effectively.

Her friends are excited about it as well! Gretchen truly cares for and loves them and wants to spend time with them to show them God’s love and light. Please pray for the Deaf of this city and elsewhere in Central Asia to be open and fruitful and to have access to God’s stories in their language.

Praise God for this team that is serving the Deaf in Central Asia!

Pray that they will be a light in the darkness and that many will come to faith because of their witness among them.

A Deaf mother and daughter in Central Asia are interested in spending more time with Gretchen Snow in the future. Praise God for this opportunity for Gretchen! Pray for wisdom, and ask that she will be bold and courageous as she shares God’s stories with them. Pray that nothing will hinder their times of meeting together, and ask that this mother and daughter will be open to the love of the Father.

Praise God for the work he is doing among the Deaf in Southeast Asia! Pray for the two Deaf churches in major cities in a Southeast Asian country. Ask that they will continue to be faithful evangelists in their communities, trust the Lord for their needs, and hold fast to his Word. Pray for the 200-300 Deaf people who have been invited to an evangelistic Christmas event this month. Pray that as they see the Good News, a spiritual fire will start and spread among the Deaf in Southeast Asia!

The Deaf – An Unreached People Unlike Any Other

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