Inside the New China An Ethnographic Memoir
China is no longer a Third World country. It is now the world's fastest growing economy. Even after the 2008 Olympics, this fact may come as a shock to many Americans, who continue to think that the Chinese still march around in brown uniforms with red stars on their caps arresting dissidents for wearing capitalist Levis. China has at last count, more than half a billion cell phone users. Indeed, the Chinese are not only the world's leading users of mobile phones, but also the leading suppliers. No Chinese student goes without one and even a donkey cart driver chatting away on a mobile is not an uncommon sight.
China's educated New Generation is possibly the most highly motivated force since the post-World War II generation in America. The young people of China are the next wave of a flourishing Chinese middle class now estimated as 13.5 % of the population, and expected to be 600 million strong by 2015, according toBusiness Week. These young people want to drive cars like ours, live in houses like ours, own condos near the beach, wear designer clothes, and carry cell phones, iPods, camcorders, digital cameras, and MP3 players, just like Americans. Tens of millions already do.
During a thirty-month stay in Chinabetween 2004 and 2007, Ayres was presented to soldiers straight out of boot camp, toasted by military generals and governors, invited to parties with local leaders as a ""foreign expert and dignitary,"" and begged to counsel dissidents and the lovelorn. He rode buses jammed with peasants hoping that they would actually be paid at the end of the month. He dickered with farmers in open markets and street vendors desperate to make ends meet. He dealt with smooth, savvy merchants in upscale department stores; and debated policy with Communist Party bosses. This revised paperback edition of the author's earlier work, A Billion to One, is a vivid, intimate account of China as it is today.