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China through the eyes of a Scottish photographer

By Sun Xiaoyu | | Updated: 2018-10-11 16:18

For those who love travel, particularly rail travel, China in 1987 was a can't-miss kind of place. In 1987, China was still operating steam locomotives on some rail routes, which made people from many countries marvel. Bruce Connolly, a photographer from Scotland, was one of them.

Connolly first came to China in 1987, starting his continuous travelling throughout China. Since then, he has travelled to most parts of China except Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi. Wherever he went, his camera remained by his side. During his journeys in China, Connolly found China very different from what he saw in photographs, which showed Chinese people very conformist in the way they dressed and behaved. Instead, what he saw was that people were friendly, welcoming and wore bright clothes. In the early years of his journey, most Chinese people were fascinated with foreigners visiting China, but now that has changed — in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, foreigners are no longer curiosities.

Another dramatic change that Connolly has felt in China is the widespread use of new technology. When he travelled south by train from Beijing towards Guangzhou, many of the towns and cities were based on intermediate technology. "Little was what we could call modern by western standards," he said. "But today China has become one of the most tech-savvy societies. People now do everything with their smartphones, and use of cash is almost disappearing."

From 1987 to the present, Connolly has witnessed China's transformation over three decades through his journey. Today he has settled in Beijing and does not regard himself as a foreigner. "China has become my home and I feel very accepted within the country," he said. "Naturally, the conformity images from my childhood are long gone — people are much more individualistic about their dress, travel and lifestyles."

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