The China Railway High-speed (CRH) train travels at over 300km an hour between Beijing and Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province. This northern province, with roads congested by overloaded lorries en route for cities, was China’s principal coal-producing region for a long time, until it was overtaken by Inner Mongolia. Everything is stained with coal: the sad grey villages, the landscape and the people, whose faces and bodies are blackened from working down the mines. Even the water is black: washing the coal after extraction pollutes rivers and groundwater, making it unsuitable for irrigation or drinking.
For more on this story, visit: China’s dark power – Le Monde diplomatique.