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Comedian Jesse Appell performs at a club in Beijing. Appell won a scholarship in 2012 to study comedy in China and has been performing on the country's small but growing stand-up comedy circuit. Anthony Kuhn/NPR hide caption

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Zhuang Qiuli and her boyfriend Feng Tao sit on the bed in their basement apartment two floors below a posh condominium. Since this photo was taken, the couple has moved above ground. Sim Chi Yin/VII hide caption

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What's a few palm trees? Soaring snowcapped peaks and the aforementioned palms rise near the airport in Sochi, Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Games. Summer Olympics hosts Beijing and Stockholm are among the cities vying to win the 2022 Winter Games. Mikhail Metzel/AP hide caption

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Protesters march outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing on Saturday. Tension escalated, sometimes to violence, in cities across China after Japan bought the disputed islands from a private Japanese owner. Louisa Lim/NPR hide caption

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Residents look at a submerged bus on a flooded street amid rainfall in the Tianjin on Thursday. A much expected downpour bypassed Beijing Wednesday but battered the neighboring city of Tianjin instead, flooding many downtown streets and submerging vehicles. China Daily/Reuters/Landov hide caption

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