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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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Reports that a dog accompanied the Navy Seals' raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound created a wave of interest in the animals and their training. Almost 3000 dogs are in use by the American military. Other dogs have been in the news lately as well, with sniffer dogs searching for bombs in sensitive areas in the wake of the raid. Sniffer dogs were also deployed to search for victims of the tornados in the American South. Dogs were in headlines for other reasons recently too, as several hundred were rescued in China, street dogs were being killed in Kosovo and Romania, and luxury dog hotels opened in Europe and North America. A luxury hotel would be a welcome change for those dogs abandoned in Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami and nuclear disaster. And in the middle of all of this, the International Dog Show in Szivasvarad, Hungary showed off pampered purebreds. Collected here are pictures of working dogs, rescued dogs, those suffering the effects of natural disasters, and several others. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)
A military working dog outfitted with its own equipment and light heads up the steps of a building in this undated handout image from a company which manufactures a range of specialized gear that includes high-tech canine flak jackets and tactical body armor. The equipment provides real time video feedback and night vision capabilities. (K9 Storm Inc./Handout/Reuters)

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