Controlling Capitalist Systems
At Home and Abroad
When Zhang Huamei filed for a business license in 1979, the 19-year-old became the first official capitalist in China.1 A native of Wenzhou, China, she sold buttons and watch straps from a table in front of her home. Ms. Zhang had actually set up shop 18 months earlier. Now she had been issued a certificate to carry on legally. She went on years later to earn praise from the Chinese Communist Party. In 2005, she was celebrated in Beijing.
When Ms. Zhang first got going, the going was tough, even though her father encouraged her. “At that time, working for yourself was very shameful,” she said ...