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Every summer in China, Chinese Bridge, one of the biggest Chinese language competitions in the Middle Kingdom, is held in the southern city of Changsha, capital of Hunan Province.

It’s been hot in Beijing this summer. That’s normal. What isn’t normal is just how hot it’s been.

Shanghai is a city that’s constantly in flux, with buildings shooting up and tumbling down almost daily; swanky shopping malls and office buildings popping up where residential compounds once sat

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Things all went bad over three beautiful old paving stones that sat on my walkway.

“I will take you to an audition at the ‘secret place,’ and you will become China’s new superstar,” the White Fox said. She phoned a man called Big Wu and it was done – I got the audition that would change my life, or at least that’s what she told me.

A low groan followed by a flurry of expletives sent me darting into the bedroom from the kitchen. “We have to move house,” my wife said, her head in her hands.