By Simon Foster
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Extra resources for Adventure Guide China (Adventure Guides Series)
Agricultural collectives were disbanded and farmers were allowed to sell any surplus product on the free market. The number of state-owned businesses was dramatically reduced and there was a distinct shift from heavy to light industry. Special Economic Zones such as Shenzhen were designated and the benefits available attracted large-scale foreign investment. Entrepreneurial capitalism was encouraged and, with its huge population and low wages, China quickly reaped the rewards of international trade and has become the workshop of the world.
Whenever you come, you’re unlikely to see much precipitation in this extremely arid region, which is home to the deserts of the Gobi and the Taklamakan. Central China gets exceptionally hot and steamy in the summer. The “Three Furnaces” along the Yangzi – Chongqing, Wuhan and Nanjing – are renowned for their Turkish-bath-like summers, though Shanghai is barely any less stifling. The same region gets bone-chillingly cold during the short winter, made all the more so by the damp and lack of central heating south of the Yellow River.
But modern China is plagued with disparities, which it must face if it is to progress beyond sheer material wealth for its urban dwellers. The vast population (see Population, p. 42), deterioration of the environment (see The Environment, p. 32), the threat posed by respiratory viruses such as SARS and bird flu (see Health, p. 98), human rights and territorial disputes are just some of the pressing problems facing the Middle Kingdom today. Doubletalk, Disparities & Discontent The most basic of China’s contradictions lies between the party’s anachronistic political rhetoric and the reality of everyday capitalism.
Adventure Guide China (Adventure Guides Series) by Simon Foster