China, Communiqué # 1 of 10: On my first full day in the People’s Republic of China, my immediate thought is, “Where’s the communism?”
Since I arrived at Beijing’s gleaming-if-under-airconditioned airport, I’ve seen more that is familiar to the Western eye than is unfamiliar: A traffic-clogged super-highway into downtown, jammed with Audi’s and Toyotas. Tinted windows are ubiquitous. Chinese either value their privacy, or know how to keep the sun out and save energy.
Downtown Jinbao Street in the Dongcheng District offers everything from Rolex botiques to Ferrari showrooms. Yes, there’s McDonalds, the Gap too.
There’s money here in China. Which is why I’m here. I’ve been invited by the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation, a Hong Kong-based non-profit, to join a few other U.S. journalists for a 10-day look-see of China’s economic miracle.
Along the way, I hope to make sense of this paradoxical one-party, free-market economy that has become Minnesota’s second-largest trading partner in the past decade. Our last five governors have been here. The ruling party, I’m told, has become more invisible than the invisible hand of the market. But it's still there, which is apparently why I can't Tweet or Facebook from China.
The vibe in the streets is no more rigid ideology. Red Star-emblazoned Mao caps are now for sale in back-alley shops. A few women in the street offer to take foreign men out for beers, presumably to practice their English. Skyscrapers are going up everywhere. China is open for business. Can’t wait to see more.
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