China’s One Percent: Portraits of the lucky ones, living large in the People’s Republic.
As China’s economy has taken off, images of the country have become dominated by skylines littered with cranes and glittering glass facades that bespeak a country that has arrived on the world stage — and wants its competitors to know it as well. But China’s rise has also been accompanied by a revolution in the private lives of Chinese citizens, and it hasn’t always been smooth. For some, rapid economic growth has meant a ticket out of the countryside to one of China’s manufacturing centers in cities like Shenzhen, Chongqing, and Tianjin. Life in one of these booming cities may well be tough, but rising wages have allowed ordinary Chinese to improve their living standards and those of their families in the villages they left behind. For others, China’s rise has simply meant money — and lots of it. Although still, by almost any definition, a communist country, China’s growth has also given rise to a vastly unequal country, and its economic gains over the last three decades have been far from evenly distributed. Instead they have gone to the already wealthy and the wily, the well-connected, and, sometimes, the visionary. But today, as China’s growth slows and a Internet-fueled animus takes root at the excesses of wealthy princelings and the entitled wealthy, the first sprouts of a new backlash again these nouveau riche may have already begun. Meet China’s 1 percent.