I’m only thirty, but I personally witnessed a time when China’s now car-clogged streets were full of bicycles instead. Such has been the rapidity of China’s transformation, sparked by the rise of Factory China. In the quarter century since I first sat in that car, China has gone from producing 2% of global manufacturing output to 25%.
Over that time China’s GDP grew thirtyfold, and 750 million people were lifted out of poverty—the most ever achieved in a single period in the history of the world. China went from being poorer than Kenya, Lesotho, and Nigeria to rivaling the United States for the title of largest economy in the world.
But as impressive as these statistics are, to me, the real signs of development are all the small, everyday occurrences that can only delight people who have known life without them. My favorites: Sprite is no longer considered a rare treat, just a mundane soft drink. People now stand in lines at the airport instead of jostling one another relentlessly. Stores now provide toilet paper in their bathrooms. And no one thinks it’s anything special to ride in a car anymore. Full Story