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China’s New Culture of Cool: Understanding the world’s fastest-growing market by Christopher Ireland, Cynthia Chan, Lianne Yu

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1. A Generation of Early Adopters

When mainland China cautiously re-opened its borders to U.S. tourists in the 1970’s, a small surge of curious travelers hastened to see the country whose leaders had hidden it from view for decades. Their questions reflected the concerns of most Americans at that time: Could over a billion people survive under a communist political and economic system? Was China’s way of life an alternative to the democratic capitalism propelling growth and prosperity in the West? While rightfully impressed with the country’s size and history, this first wave of visitors relayed somber stories that largely discredited the Mao regime. They told of masses barely making a living amidst dirty, aging buildings, and dilapidated roadways. ...

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