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KUNMING — The ground quakes with a blast as the limestone fragments are blown from their roots, like giant white teeth shattered and unmoored. Nearby, a worker prepares his drill to place another stick of dynamite deep within the rock. He stops for a moment, places his foot high on the rubble and surveys the vast construction landscape that will soon become China's fourth largest airport.
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Among all the scenic spots in Shilin, the rock of Ashima in the Small Stone Forest is the most famous. This rock resembles a girl, with a kerchief on her head and a bamboo basket on her back. The shape and expression are surprisingly lifelike. Tourists dress up in traditional Sani -- a branch of the Yi ethnic group -- dresses to strike the same pose next to the stone girl.
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Yunnan Province is a microcosm of China's freshwater challenges.