(This is Part 1 of a four-part series. Read Part 2, "As China grows, so do its problems"; Part 3, "China at forefront of environmentalism?" and Part 4, "China takes technology to next level.") Once again I'm in China, having carefully timed my visit to avoid the brouhaha of the 2008 Olympics. In the wake of that long-heralded event, and following China's first space walk, the Chinese are practically bursting their buttons with national pride. Many of them now perceive little of substance separating China's status from that of the United States -- oh, maybe just that little matter of differing political systems. And since the Chinese government -- now Communist in name only -- has led its citizens to unimaginable prosperity in a single generation, the vast majority of Chinese are well pleased with it. Ergo, they're not so much angered as perplexed by outside criticism of a system that, for most of them, has worked wonders. My Chinese home away fro...
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