TIME China

China Ties Officials’ Promotions to Saving the Environment

People do morning exercises on a polluted day in Jiaozuo
China Daily/Reuters People do morning exercises on a polluted day in Jiaozuo, Henan province, China, on March 16, 2015

No longer is rampant growth the Communist Party's overriding priority

For decades, Chinese officials’ job prospects have depended on one factor above all others: economic growth. The incentive structure seemed to make sense given that China has enjoyed one of the greatest economic expansions in human history. But on May 5, new Chinese regulations added another inducement to the mix: environmental protection. Officials will be held accountable for the air, water and soil in areas under their control. Should they fail an environmental responsibility audit, promotions will be nixed.

It’s no secret that China’s breakneck growth has devastated the country’s environment. Even by the government’s own reckoning — which some consider an underestimation of the problem — only eight of 74 Chinese cities met national standards for clean air last year, according to state newswire Xinhua. Sixty percent of ground water in one official survey was deemed “bad” or “very bad,” reported Xinhua.

Beijing is now talking tough and last year declared a “war against pollution.” A revised environmental law, which took effect on Jan. 1, promises to target polluters and officials who fake environmental data. Last month, construction on a controversial $3.75 billion dam was blocked. During his annual address in March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed “a firm and unrelenting approach to ensure blue skies, clear waters, and sustainable development.”

According to Xinhua, the government guidelines released on May 5 state that “by 2020, China aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40% to 45% from the 2005 level, and increase the share of nonfossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15%.”

Earlier this year, a documentary made by former state TV journalist Chai Jing showed how state-owned industries were complicit in degrading China’s environment. The online video racked up more than 200 million views, and the country’s new Environment Minister Chen Jining praised China’s version of Rachel Carson. But a few days later, the video was pulled from the Chinese digital space.

Ma Jun, a Chinese environmentalist and former journalist, wrote about Chai for this year’s TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. (Ma is also a former TIME 100 honoree.) Reacting to the latest antipollution guidelines, Ma wrote on his microblog: “In the future, officials will feel more pressure to protect the environment. But how to assess the officials’ efforts to protect the environment is still a pivotal issue.”

Indeed, China’s Environment Minister has described the need for the country’s environmental legislation to have “steel teeth,” rather than acting as a “paper tiger.” So will the latest guidelines, which were formulated by China’s Cabinet, be enforced? Even the Xinhua article about the new policies ended with a note of caution, quoting a government-affiliated academic:

“The key for the next step is whether we can seriously implement the guideline,” noted Wang Yi, head of the Institute of Policy and Management under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

TIME Aviation

More Chinese Airlines Are Flying to the U.S. Than American Carriers to China

A China Southern Boeing 787, with Tail Number B-2727, taxis at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco
Louis Nastro—Reuters A China Southern Boeing 787 taxis at San Francisco International Airport,, Calif., April 11, 2015

Chinese airlines have abysmal on-time records but are expanding rapidly into North America

Planning to fly from Nanjing or Changsha to Los Angeles? Or Beijing to San Jose? Or Wuhan to San Francisco? If so, a Chinese airline has a flight for you — and chances are you’ll be traveling in a spiffy new Boeing 777 or 787.

This year, for the first time ever, more Chinese airlines will be flying to the U.S. than American carriers will be heading to China, according to CAPA-Center for Aviation. During this year’s peak July 1 to Sept. 20 time period, CAPA calculates that four major Chinese carriers — Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan — will send 2,028 flights to the U.S. per week, compared to 1,853 a week from U.S. airlines.

Just four years ago, American carriers offered almost twice as many flights on U.S.-China routes as their Chinese counterparts did, according to CAPA. But as more Chinese travel abroad, demand for trans-Pacific flights has skyrocketed. With the U.S. relaxing visa rules for Chinese, the boom looks set to continue. In two years — July 2013 to July 2015 — flight capacity between China and North America has increased by around 60%, according to CAPA and OAG figures.

Indeed, by 2034, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that one in five passengers worldwide will be traveling to, from or within China. Chinese airlines, naturally, are keen to exploit this massive market.

American airlines have likewise been targeting China — and low fuel prices are helping wring profits out of these notoriously costly long-haul routes. United has added a route to the interior Chinese city of Chengdu and now connects Shanghai to Guam; the American carrier still ferries more passengers between the two countries than its closest Chinese rival, Air China. This year, American Airlines will begin flying between Dallas and Beijing, and Delta will start a Shanghai-Los Angeles service.

But Chinese airlines are also expanding aggressively, particularly in so-called secondary cities, like Nanjing over nearby Shanghai. This summer, China Eastern will begin flying between Nanjing and Los Angeles, while China Southern already carries passengers between the central Chinese city of Wuhan and San Francisco. Further north, Sichuan Airlines controls the Shenyang-Vancouver route. In 2010, there was only an average of one long-haul flight a day to a Chinese secondary city, reports CAPA. By the end of 2015, there will be 11.

The expansion by Chinese carriers will mean smaller crowds of Chinese at Hong Kong, Japanese and South Korean airports, which have thrived as stop-over points for Chinese traversing the Pacific. China is undergoing an airport building-spree, with plans unveiled for nearly 70 new airports. Beijing, which expanded its current airport for the 2008 Olympics, is building a new airport that should be ready for business by the end of 2018. Chengdu’s new airport will have capacity for 80 million passengers per year.

Yet for all the expansion, China’s skies remain chaotic. In part because the military hogs most of China’s airspace, Chinese commercial airlines are cursed with some of the worst on-time records of any carriers in the world. Last month, IATA’s director general Tony Tyler chastised China for its air-traffic woes. Already, nearly 70,000 flights criss-cross the country a week. What will happen when more flights — and new local airlines — take off?

Even more troubling, growth in the Chinese airline industry has depended on government subsidies and grants, which numbered upwards of $1 billion last year. “Chinese airlines have outperformed American airlines over the past few years,” acknowledges Gao Anni, an airlines analyst at Kairui consultancy, pointing to the hit American airlines took during the 2008 financial crisis at the same time that Chinese carriers were profiting from the rapid growth in domestic travel. But, Gao notes, “there are huge management efficiency gaps between Chinese airlines and American airlines, even with the help of government subsidies.”

with reporting by Gu Yongqiang/Beijing

TIME Nepal

These Are the 5 Facts That Explain Nepal’s Devastating Earthquake

Destroyed villages sit on mountain tops near the epicenter of Saturday's massive earthquake, in the Gorkha District of Nepal on April 29, 2015.
Wally Santana—AP Destroyed villages sit on mountain tops near the epicenter of the massive earthquake, in the Gorkha District of Nepal on April 29, 2015.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake will hamper Nepal for years

The earthquake that ravaged Nepal, killing at least 5,000 people, has revealed the best and worst both in the Himalayan nation and those rushing to its aid. These 5 facts explain what’s shaping the domestic and international responses to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and where Nepal goes from here.

1. Quick to aid

Aid pledges are pouring in: $10 million from the US, $7.6 million from the UK, and $3.9 million from Australia, among others. But as welcome as this influx of funds is, the sad reality is that Nepal is ill-equipped to make full use of these resources. That is why countries are lining up to donate technical expertise via disaster response teams as well. China has sent a 62-member search-and-rescue team to help the recovery effort. Israel has sent 260 rescue experts in addition to a 200-person strong medical team, while Japan has sent another 70 people as part of a disaster relief team. The United Nations, in addition to releasing $15 million from its central emergency-response fund, is busy trying to coordinate international efforts to maximize their effectiveness.

(TIME, Quartz, Wall Street Journal)

2. A weak base

Nepal’s infrastructure was critically feeble even before disaster struck. With per capita GDP less than $700 a year, many Nepalese build their own houses without oversight from trained engineers. Nepal tried to institute a building code in 1994 following another earthquake that claimed the lives of 700 people, but it turned out to be essentially unenforceable. To make matters worse, a shortage of paved roads in the country means that assistance can’t reach remote regions where it’s needed most. Local authorities are simply overwhelmed, as is Nepal’s sole international airport in Kathmandu. Planes filled with blankets, food and medicine are idling on tarmacs because there are not enough terminals available.

(TIME, Washington Post, TIME)

3. Half a year’s output gone?

The economic cost of the earthquake is estimated to be anywhere between $1 billion to $10 billion, for a country with an annual GDP of approximately $20 billion. The economic impact will be lasting. Tourism is crucial to the Nepalese economy, accounting for about 8 percent of the total economy and employing more than a million people. Mount Everest, a dangerous destination under the best of circumstances, is the heart of that industry. The earthquake this past weekend triggered an avalanche that took the lives of at least 17 climbers, and as many as 200 people are still stranded on the mountain.

(Quartz, Deutsche Welle, Wall Street Journal, The Independent)

4. Internal political barriers

Nepal’s domestic politics are not helping. Nepal’s 1996-2006 civil war claimed the lives of at least 12,000 Nepalese, and the country’s political system has never really recovered. The government that stood before the quake was woefully ill-prepared to deal with a disaster of such scale. There have been no elections at the district, village or municipal level for nearly 20 years, and the committees in charge of local councils are not organized enough to deal with the difficult task of coordinating emergency assistance. Things are not much better at the national level, where Kathmandu has seen nine prime ministers in eight years.

(Washington Post, New York Times, TIME)

5. A competition for influence

Not all foreign aid is altruistic, and some countries never miss an opportunity to capitalize on tragedy. For years, Nepal has been an object of competition between India and China. For India, Nepal has been a useful buffer state between itself and China ever since Beijing gained control over Tibet. Relative to China, India and Nepal are much closer linguistically and culturally. Nepalese soldiers train in India, and New Delhi is a main weapons supplier to Nepal. For China, Nepal is an important component of its “New Silk Road” plan to link Asia with Europe, and offers a useful ally against Tibetan independence. China was already Nepal’s biggest foreign investor as of 2014. While in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake both Asian powers are providing significant assistance, it’s in the reconstruction phase where the true competition between the two will emerge. Pay particular attention to the race to build hydroelectric power plants: both Beijing and New Delhi have been positioning themselves to take advantage of Nepal’s 6,000 rivers to feed their respective energy needs.

(Quartz, BBC, TIME)

TIME pacific rim

How the U.S. Can Counter China in Asia

President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US Embassy in Beijing on Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. From left: US Trade Representative Mike Froman, Obama, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US Embassy in Beijing on Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. From left: US Trade Representative Mike Froman, Obama, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers a new solution

A historic debate over trade is now heating up in Washington. President Barack Obama hopes to persuade Congress to grant him fast-track trade authority to help complete negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive multilateral deal involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. The talks include nations on both sides of the Pacific, ranging from Japan to Australia to Peru. Together with the U.S., the group represents a third of world trade and 40% of global GDP.

Given those numbers, the political stakes are high, and emotions are running hot on both sides. Pro-business advocates who favor TPP say it will generate economic gains worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade by reducing barriers to trade and investment. Projected GDP growth in Japan and Singapore for 2025 would be nearly 2% higher with the deal than without it. Malaysia’s GDP might rise by more than 5%; Vietnam’s, possibly more than 10%.

TPP isn’t expected to move U.S. GDP much, but the White House insists the deal will boost exports by 4.39% over 2025 forecasts. Exports create the kinds of middle-class jobs that drive longer-term growth and reduce income inequality. TPP would also give the U.S. a firmer commercial foothold in the world’s most economically dynamic region, and it could aid U.S. efforts to negotiate future diplomatic agreements in Asia–even with China, which pointedly isn’t a part of the deal.

Those who oppose TPP–such as labor unions, human-rights groups and environmental organizations–warn that details of the agreement have been negotiated almost entirely in secret. They recall the tumultuous negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the early 1990s, and the confident predictions–which detractors believe went unfulfilled–that the pact would create millions of new jobs.

Both sides miss a critical point: unlike NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is much more than just a trade deal. It is the foundation for an intelligent reorientation of U.S. foreign policy, one that will help revitalize the entire global economy and reinforce security ties with Asian countries fearful of China’s growing regional dominance. It remains the centerpiece of President Obama’s long-delayed “pivot to Asia,” a smart plan that could extend American influence in East and Southeast Asia for many years to come.

That pivot is overdue. China’s rise has challenged the U.S. and its economy by promoting a system of state capitalism that gives political officials a powerful role in directing market activity. By using state-owned companies, state-run banks and loyal firms to achieve political goals, China has tilted the commercial playing field away from foreign companies and the U.S.

TPP can help counter the growth of Chinese-style state capitalism in Asia in much the same way that potential European Union membership once encouraged reform in former communist nations. Countries like Poland and Estonia learned to abide by E.U. rules that advantage private-sector competition and liberalized labor, trade and investment standards.

The deal would provide a landmark win for free markets, the rule of law and Western labor and environmental standards while inviting Beijing’s neighbors to hedge their bets on China by also strengthening investment ties with the U.S. and other TPP members. It would signal that America intends to remain in Asia as a stabilizer even as China becomes an ever more influential player.

And for President Obama, TPP would anchor the legacy of a leader who has often seemed adrift in global politics.

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy


This appears in the May 11, 2015 issue of TIME.
TIME movies

San Andreas Is Still Going to Be Released in May Despite the Nepal Earthquake

Dwayne Johnson, a cast member in the upcoming film "San Andreas," poses before the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon 2015 at Caesars Palace on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Las Vegas
Chris Pizzello—Invision/AP Dwayne Johnson, a cast member in the upcoming film San Andreas, poses before the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon 2015 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 21, 2015

Warner Bros. says it will disseminate information about how people can donate to Nepal earthquake relief

Warner Bros. will stick to the original release date of May 29 for its earthquake blockbuster San Andreas despite the devastating tremblor in Nepal, Variety reports.

A studio spokesperson said Wednesday the company debated over moving the release date, but instead chose to alter promotional materials to include information about how people can donate to relief efforts in Nepal. They also accelerated an original public-service campaign that educates people on natural disaster safety and adjusted the messaging to encompass events in Nepal, Variety said.

The trailers and posters, however, will not be changed.

“We will continue to evaluate our worldwide marketing campaign to ensure that we are sensitive to those affected by this tragic event,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told Variety.

The movie features Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Carla Gugino as an estranged couple who travels from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their daughter after California’s San Andreas fault suffers a magnitude-9 earthquake. The trailer features scenes of Los Angeles skyscrapers tumbling and a massive tsunami bearing down on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Nepalese police said Thursday morning the death toll from the magnitude-7.8 earthquake had topped 5,500 people across India, Bangladesh, China and Nepal, with an estimated 11,440 injured.

[Variety]

TIME Japan

Japan’s Shinzo Abe Is Talking in Washington — but He Needs to Talk to Asia

Shinzo Abe, Joe Biden, John Boehner
Carolyn Kaster—AP Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks before a joint meeting of Congress, April 29, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The Japanese Prime Minister is a hit in Washington, but the reaction in China and South Korea will matter more

Shinzo Abe landed in the U.S. this week to great fanfare. Delivering the first-ever speech by a Japanese Prime Minister to a joint session of Congress, Abe proclaimed his resolve to “to take yet more responsibility for the peace and stability in the world.” Japan is busy trying to shape a new foreign policy course for itself after years of relative isolation on the geopolitical stage, a result of its pacifist constitution that dates back to its defeat and occupation by the U.S. after World War II.

Yet while much attention has been focused on Abe’s overture to Washington, just as critical to Japan’s re-emergence on the global stage is its relationship with its Asian neighbors — especially China and South Korea. How these two economic powers respond to a more assertive Japan will go a long way in determining how far Abe’s ambitions will take Tokyo.

After decades of hostility, Japan-China relations have markedly improved over the past six months. Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have had productive encounters over the past two years, and have agreed to keep the lines of communication open going forward. China and Japan have both promised to use “dialogue and consultation” to deal with territorial disputes in the East China Sea and to work towards developing crisis mechanisms to avoid escalation.

While this might not sound like much, it is a significant achievement for two Asian heavyweights who have long been at each other’s throats. China’s rise casts a long shadow over all of Asia, but Japan has signaled a willingness to collaborate, boding well for the future. Japan’s dramatically improved relationship with India should also make China cautious in its dealings with Japan. There remain a host of issues to work out — particularly over Japan’s actions during World War II — but the China-Japan relationship now has the best trajectory of any bilateral relationship in the G20.

Yet for all the progress Japan has made with China, its relationship with South Korea — technically an ally — remains strained. The trilateral relationship among the U.S., Japan and South Korea is critical to American plans for the region, but historical disputes have threatened this framework. During World War II, South Korean women were forced to work for the occupying Japanese army as “comfort women” — a euphemism for sex slaves.

While Abe said in a speech at Harvard University on Monday that his “heart aches even now” for the victims, he has stopped short of officially recognizing and apologizing for the practice, as Seoul has demanded. Abe maintains that previous government apologies for Japanese wartime aggressions are sufficient. The South Koreans clearly disagree, with a Korean newspaper denouncing Abe as “the root of the problem” on its front page this week. With a sputtering economy and a government weakened by scandal — South Korea’s Prime Minister resigned on April 27 after bribery accusations — it is no wonder that Seoul is eyeing Japan’s aspirations warily.

The U.S. has tried to stay out of this charged dispute, and is taking a page from its playbook with another key American ally: Turkey. Out of concerns for Turkish feelings, President Obama has refrained from uttering the G word to describe the mass killing of Armenians in Turkey early in the last century. That caution — even though most historians accept that a genocide occurred — is calculated to avoid damaging a strategically important relationship.

In Japan, Abe has the political capital to apologize for historical aggression, but chooses not to. Japan is too important to Obama’s “pivot to Asia” strategy to risk estranging its leaders, especially with the critical Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on the horizon.

If the pivot to Asia is to succeed and Japan’s new foreign policy ambitions are to be realized, America’s democratic allies in Asia need to find a way to move forward. Abe is talking in the U.S., but what matters is whether Asia is listening.

TIME Nepal

Death Toll From Nepal Earthquake Crosses 5,000 as Rescue Teams Begin to Arrive at Remote Villages

Rescue Operations Continue Following Devastating Nepal Earthquake
David Ramos—Getty Images Nepalese victims of the earthquake search for their belongings among debris of their homes in Bhaktapur, Nepal, on April 29, 2015.

Periodic landslides and relentless rain continue to hamper rescue efforts

Rishi Khanal spent about 80 hours in a rubble-filled room with three dead bodies after the seven-story building he was in collapsed around him during Saturday’s massive earthquake in downtown Kathmandu. The 28-year-old was finally pulled out of the rubble on Tuesday, Reuters reports, by a Nepali-French rescue team combing the capital city for survivors.

“It seems he survived by sheer willpower,” said Akhilesh Shreshtha, a doctor who treated him, after it appeared that Khanal had no access to food or water for three days and escaped with nothing but a possible broken leg.

Khanal’s rescue was a heartening but rare story from the devastation in Nepal, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake over the weekend killed more than 5,000 people. That toll is sure to rise significantly as rescue teams move away from Kathmandu, which they began to do early Wednesday, and reach devastated villages near the quake’s epicenter.

Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said the total number of lives lost could ultimately exceed 10,000. “The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing,” Koirala told Reuters. “It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal.”

More than 450,000 people have reportedly been displaced from their homes. As international aid teams from countries like India, China, Pakistan, the U.S., Israel and several others arrive and commence operations, there is also growing concern about the spread of disease and lack of food and water in rural areas.

MORE: 6 More Ways You Can Give to Nepal Earthquake Relief

“The situation is much more worrying in those districts,” Samuel Marie-Fanon, the regional rapid-response coordinator for the European Commission’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department, told the Washington Post. “The big rains have started, and all this week people are sleeping in the open. There is an obvious need for shelter and tents or tarpaulins. The priorities are water, food and, of course, medical assistance.”

Periodic landslides and relentless rain continue to hamper rescue efforts in districts like Sindupalchowk, about 50 miles from Kathmandu and one of the worst-affected areas. Houses in the district have been completely destroyed, the Post reported, with nothing but heaps of rubble piled over bodies.

The Post also wrote about Ratna Kumari Shreshtha, an elderly woman brought to Kathmandu after being rescued from Sindupalchowk. She expressed the grief and helplessness sweeping the country.

“No houses left, no houses left,” the paper quoted her as saying. “Everything is finished.”

Read next: International Aid to Nepal Ramps Up

TIME movies

Furious 7 Is China’s All-Time Highest-Grossing Film

(L-R) Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, and Ludacris in FURIOUS 7.
Universal Pictures Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, and Ludacris in FURIOUS 7.

The film became a bigger global hit than Frozen

Add Furious 7’s Chinese box-office numbers to its long list of records broken: It’s officially China’s biggest movie ever. Bringing in a total of $323 million, it breaks the $319 million record set by Transformers: Age of Extinction. In other words, Furious 7 has made more money in China that it’s earned in the United States ($320 million).

Not only is it the first April film to make more than $100 million in its opening weekend in the U.S., but it’s also the fastest live-action film to bring in more than $1 billion worldwide. Furious 7 has been creeping up the international box office charts, and after hitting a worldwide total of $1.32 billion this weekend, it became a bigger global hit than Frozen.

Furious 7 is still holding strong in North America, too. It’s held on to the number one spot since its April 3 release, and it brought in $17.8 million this weekend. After 24 days in theaters, the film is $100 million ahead of the box-office pace set by the last film in the franchise, Fast & Furious 6.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Autos

You’ll Never Believe Who Makes This Gorgeous New Car

It drives itself, obviously

In a Fountain Valley, Calif., workshop thousands of miles away from General Motors’ headquarters in Detroit, dozens of designers, engineers and craftsmen have been toiling for months. Their project offers a glimpse of the way we may be driving 15 years from now. The hangar-like workspace belongs to GFMI Metalcrafters, a company that for decades has built many of the most important concept cars. Laboring in its password-protected workrooms, these teams have been assembling a car so far ahead of its time, some of the technologies and materials it requires don’t exist yet.

The result, dubbed the FNR, is arguably Chevy’s most unusual concept car to date. The FNR is a fully autonomous electric vehicle. It’s a family sedan and infotainment hub. It’s aimed squarely at the young, consumers who characteristically respond better to smartphones than sheet metal. Chevy first unveiled the FNR (it stands for “Find New Roads,” the brand’s tagline) at the 2015 Shanghai motor show, and says it plans to bring it to the U.S. later this year.

Chevy hopes that the FNR will hook millennials, not just in China but worldwide, with the promise of a vehicle that will be part Siri, part Fitbit. “Everywhere in the world our time is constrained—commute time, work time, family time,” says Sharon Nishi, head of sales and marketing for GM China. “Those are some of the things that inspired this car.” And in a departure from current trends in autonomous-vehicle development, Chevy envisions the FNR as a vehicle for the mass market. GM projects that by 2030—the hypothetical model year for the FNR—self-driving technologies will be prolific enough to have become less costly, and therefore feasible for a real-world family car. And executives think autonomous vehicles have a particularly good chance of proliferating in developing countries like China, where cities and roads are crowding quickly, governments are anxious to resolve congestion, and much infrastructure is yet to be built.

Like many of GM’s most famous concept cars, the FNR helps us glimpse possible technologies of tomorrow. Motors housed in the rims of its massive, hubless wheels will power the car. Double scissor doors open on each side like lotus blossoms. Webbed seats can read everything from heart rate and blood pressure to mood—and adjust temperature, speed, lighting and even musical selections for those who want to work or sleep. Care to swap out the map projected on the oversized canopy to work on some spreadsheets? Simply swipe your hand over the gesture-controlled crystal ball in the center console to reconfigure the display. Of course, that’s assuming you’re in the car at all. The FNR could “run errands for you while you’re at work, or take itself to the dealer for service so you don’t have to,” says Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of global product development.

There’s much work to be done before cars come anywhere close to fulfilling the FNR’s fully autonomous promise. Like other manufacturers and suppliers, GM has gradually loaded more vehicles with active-safety technologies that are precursors to a car that could pilot itself–night vision, blind-spot alerts, lane-change warnings, adaptive cruise control, brake assist. Next year, GM will be the first automaker to bring vehicle-to-vehicle communication—cars “talking” to one another to help them avoid collisions—to market in a 2017 Cadillac CTS. “It’s a step-by-step progression—some of the things we introduced in 2010 and 2011 are now trickling down into our production cars,” says John Capp, GM’s global director of safety strategies and vehicle programs.

Other, more luxury-oriented companies, including Audi and Mercedes-Benz, are closer to putting autonomous vehicles on the road. But GM executives say that by 2030, that may not matter. “How will the consumer interface with and experience all this technology—will it really help, or will it become a secondary burden?” asks Bryan Nesbitt, GM China vice president of design. The automakers that integrate the tech most successfully, Nesbitt says, will come out ahead.

TIME Earnings

Apple Is Totally Killing It in China

Hangzhou Opens Second Apple Store
ChinaFotoPress—ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images Apple Store assistants celebrate the second Apple Store open at the Mixc Mall on its first day open on April 24, 2015 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province of China.

After years of trying, the company has finally found its footing in the world's largest market

Apple has officially made it big in China.

Sales of Apple devices in China hit $16.8 billion in the second quarter, up 71% year-over-year, according to Apple’s Q2 earnings release published Monday. Chinese sales now account for nearly 30% of Apple’s total revenue.

Much of that growth in what Apple refers to as “Greater China,” which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, comes from the recent release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Those devices’ bigger screens are proving very popular with consumers in those countries, analysts say.

Apple’s Q2 China numbers also got a nice lift from February’s Chinese New Year, when Chinese shoppers typically shower friends and family with gifts.

Apple’s success in China means it may now be the top smartphone seller in the country, according to at least one estimate.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com