3. Labor: Where did all the migrants go?

It became fashionable after the Soviet Union’s collapse to say that breakneck economic growth was the only thing postponing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) day of reckoning. Communist ideology was discredited, went the saying, but as long as the economic pie kept growing, the citizens would set aside broader concerns and take their piece. But what if growth were interrupted by, say, a global financial crisis, collapse of world trade, and mass layoffs on the Chinese factory floor? The music would stop, the masquerade party would come to an end, and Jennifer Connelly would smash her way through David Bowie’s bubble prison, so to speak.1

Except that it didn’t. The Chinese economy faced exactly this cataclysmic ...

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