Postcards from Tomorrow Square : reports from China by James Fallows

By James Fallows

The writer of the hugely acclaimed ''Blind Into Baghdad'' stories firsthand at the momentous adjustments occurring in China and what it ability for America.

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It is described in chapter three. The same process of unintended discovery led me to the story of how two Taiwanese-born business executives undertook the mission of reducing poverty in China’s dry, remote western provinces, as portrayed in chapter ten, and of the Irish-born entrepreneur Liam Casey’s emergence as “Mr. China” in the southern manufacturing center of Shenzhen, described in chapter four. Here is the main thing I hope readers will bear in mind in considering the variety of these chapters—short or long, “policy”-oriented or devoted mainly to portraying interesting cultural developments: The most important fact about them is, indeed, the variety of the aspects of China they present.

The control is from on high—and for most people in the cities, most of the time, it’s not something they bump into. What’s out of control is everything else. Often this is in a good way. On an evening walk down a side street that looked little changed since the 1930s, my wife and I started noticing that nearly every person we passed was running a business of some sort. This man was riding a bicycle with a towering load of flattened-out cardboard, meant for a scrap dealer. That old woman was weaving together rice straws for a broom, helped by her toddler granddaughter who handed her straws.

In adaptability, Chinese society as a whole puts the rest of the world to shame. Flower vendors and restaurateurs discovered that celebrating a Western-style Valentine’s Day increased their sales. Now the local florists promote one on the fourteenth of every month. One alley near our apartment is lined with shops offering turtles, fish, puppies, kittens, and birds as pets. On the next street over, most of the same creatures are offered as food. Whatever sells. The Communist Party that sits atop this society has been both adaptable and rigid.

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