How China Became a Superpower in Four Decades

A story of the evolving Chinese dreams from 1976 to 2016

An attendant adjusting overhead baggage a high speed train.
Shanghai, 1987 vs. 2013

The Upheavals

The most valuable item a family would own would be a bicycle or a small portable radio.

But the world he knew would soon turn on its head.

The production of Coca-Cola resumed in 1981, after a thirty year hiatus. (image source)

Coca-Cola was a luxury item — each bottle was nearly 5% of an average worker’s monthly salary.

Miraculous Transformation

The kind of hockey stick growth that would make startups envy. (image source)
I animated a fade-in effect to accentuate the change.
Shenzhen, 1985 vs. 2009 (image source)

Inflection Point

Though technology adoption happens later in China, once it starts, it sweeps across the country like wildfire.

(image source)

WeChat was built for a smartphone-powered world, without the baggage of a legacy desktop app.

This is unprecedented — nowhere else can you find a product with this kind of ubiquitousness multiplied at this kind of scale.

China Scale

This happened when a 50 lane highway was reduced down to 20 during 2015’s national holiday. (image source)
China Scale in Pictures: 1. Students writing a final exam; 2. Shoppers on Shanghai’s shopping street; 3.Taxis awaiting passengers at Beijing’s airport. (image source)
(image source)
I took this photo at Shanghai HongQiao high-speed train station. This is by far the biggest waiting room I’ve seen.

Open and Closed

It is unprecedented for foreigners to be humiliated on Chinese television in such a manner.

Open-source is the new standard, and digital communication is the new norm.

The Internet works fine in China, unless you try to visit foreign sites … or look up certain keywords, for which you’ll be presented with an error page.

I tried to used an Internet cafe similar to this one in 2013. I was almost turned away because as a foreign national I didn’t have a Chinese ID card to login with. Real-name registration is enforced in China. (image source)

State of Paranoia

Four generations of Chinese Communist Party leaders — Mao (1949–1976), Deng (1978–1992), Jiang (1992–2002) and Hu (2002–2012).

This was the turning point in China’s history of reform.

Chinese Dream

A Chinese Dream banner in Beijing (image source)

My little cousin, a recent university grad and an avid fan UEFA football, asked me why the West demonizes China.

Profound disparity is the core issue in China. (image source)

We all have a stake in China’s future, and the stakes have never been higher.

My observations. Nothing more, nothing less.

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