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China, the most populous country and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. In this, the latest entry in a semi-regular series on China, we find images of tremendous variety, including astronauts, nomadic herders, replica European villages, pole dancers, RV enthusiasts, traditional farmers, and inventors. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [47 photos]

Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, waves during a departure ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, on June 16, 2012. China sent its first woman taikonaut into outer space this week, prompting a surge of national pride as the rising power takes its latest step towards putting a space station in orbit within the decade. Liu, a 33-year-old fighter pilot, joined two other taikonauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft when it lifted off from a remote Gobi Desert launch site. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

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As China's population and economy continue to grow, the country is scrambling to solve challenges in housing, elder care, cultural and political institutions, the environment, and other areas of everyday life. Today's collection, a recent gathering of images from across the nation, covers a range of subjects from wheelchair dancers to bear bile farms, a monkey-controlled robot arm to a Tibetan exile protester who set himself on fire earlier today, and much more. [41 photos]

A woman and her son sit inside the capsule of an electric tricycle as they drive along a main road in central Beijing, on March 15, 2012. (Reuters/David Gray)

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The lunar new year is celebrated throughout the world, but especially in Asia when the lunisolar calendar ticks off a new cycle. This year is the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese zodiac, and is viewed as very auspicious. In China, the holiday is known as 春节, the Spring Festival, and kicks off 15 days of celebration. It also triggers the largest human migration in the world, as hundreds of millions of Chinese trek to see families. Gathered here are images of the preparation for the holiday, the travel scene in mainland China, and celebrations in many parts of the world. 新年快乐! -- Lane Turner/雷恩 (38 photos total)
Chinese folk artists perform the lion dance at a temple fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 22, 2012 in Beijing. Also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar calendar, it is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with the Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

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Rebecca Flaig of Goochland, Va., left, and Ryan Jung of Richmond hold their umbrellas aloft as part of the World AIDS Day event on Brown’s Island in Richmond, Va. on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. A sea of red umbrellas, in the form of a giant red ribbon, were displayed. A man holds a poster featuring [...]

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RESCUE WORK
RESCUE WORK: A man pointed to a spot in the rubble as rescuers gathered in Van, Turkey, Tuesday. Earlier, rescuers freed a baby and her mother, both alive. The death toll had risen to 432 by Tuesday afternoon from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that rattled eastern Turkey Sunday. (Quentin Top/Wostok Press/Maxppp/Zuma Press)

LIFTED UP
LIFTED UP: A wounded protester was rushed to a makeshift hospital in San’a, Yemen, after government troops opened fire on tens of thousand of demonstrators, killing at least two, on Tuesday. (Marwan Naamani/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

WILL ROW FOR FOOD
WILL ROW FOR FOOD: People paddled toward food dropped by a Thai army helicopter in a village that has been isolated by flooding in Ayutthaya, Thailand, Tuesday. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

HUNKERED DOWN
HUNKERED DOWN: A police officer stood guard inside a bunker after a grenade exploded in a market in Srinagar, India, Tuesday. Suspected militants carried out two grenade attacks on security force installations, injuring at least three paramilitary soldiers, police said. (Altaf Zargar/Zuma Press)

LUNCH BREAK
LUNCH BREAK: A vendor ate amid piles of stacked rice at a market in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, Tuesday. (Reuters)


PRESENT! European Parliament member Czeslaw Adam Siekierski attended a debate Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, regarding the economic crisis. (Vincent Kessler/Reuters)

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This Big Picture post gives us a glimpse of daily life in parts of China, documented by wire photographers from the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty. The post begins with a short essay by Reuters photographer Jason Lee. Lee photographed six-year-old Wang Gengxiang, known as the "Masked Boy." Gengxiang was severely burned in an accident involving a burning pile of straw last winter. Most of the skin on the little boy's head was burned off, requiring him to wear a full surgical mask. The mask is said to prevent his scars from becoming infected. According to the local media in the village where Gengxiang was photographed, the doctors cannot continue his skin-graft surgery until his damaged trachea (or windpipe) is strong enough. The Lee essay is following by a black slide, and then more "slice of life" photography from a still somewhat mysterious China. -- Paula Nelson (50 photos total)
Wang Gengxiang on Children's Day, June 1, 2010, and after he was severely burned in an accident, at Mijiazhuang village on the outskirts of Fenyang, North China's Shanxi province, September 9, 2011. Gengxiang, age 6, known as "Masked Boy", was severely burned in an accident involving a burning pile of straw last winter. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

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STUCK IN THE MUD STUCK IN THE MUD: U.S. Army soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment pulled a tractor out of the mud at their mountaintop position at Observation Post Mustang in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, Friday. (John Moore/Getty Images)

LOG PILE LOG PILE: A worker loaded timber on a truck at a processing site on the outskirts of Hefei, Anhui Province, China, Friday. (Reuters)

MONEY RETURNED MONEY RETURNED: Crew members on a Royal Air Force aircraft accompanied a large consignment of Libyan currency to Benghazi, Libya, Wednesday. Around 280 million Libyan dinar banknotes from Britain, frozen at the start of the Libyan conflict, have been released and delivered back to Libya. (Associated Press)

A LOT OF SMOKES A LOT OF SMOKES: Cigarettes were stacked on a production line at Bulgartabak’s cigarette mill Friday in Sofia, Bulgaria. BT Invest, a company controlled by Russian state VTB bank, won a tender to buy a 79.8% stake in Bulgaria’s dominant cigarette maker for 100 million euros ($145 million). (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)

WEAK JOBS REPORT WEAK JOBS REPORT: Traders worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday. Data showed the U.S. economy failed to add jobs in August for the first time in almost a year, raising the odds of a return to recession. (Jin Lee/Associated Press)

HINDU PRAYER HINDU PRAYER: A woman prayed as she touched the toes of a 52-foot idol of the elephant-headed Hindu god Lord Ganesh during the ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ Hindu festival in Hyderabad, India, Friday. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

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Most of us don't get enough sleep. "As the world is getting faster and crazier, I've noticed sleepers around the streets, just everywhere," writes photographer Romain Philippon. "Of course, I also see some poetry and dreamings in all of that, but the contrast is so interesting to me, people trying to escape to their condition…" Philippon is self-publishing a book on the topic called "Inconscience". The first eight photographs in this entry are from that book. Collected here as well are more photographs of people everywhere lucky enough to find a few winks. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)
Delivery man, in front of a shop, Kolkata, India © Romain Philippon

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