Whitney duan

How China’s economic revolution created billionaires overnight

In the winter of 1992, the retired octogenarian Deng Xiaoping toured China’s southern coasts. From there he gave a spirited warning to his communist successors: ‘Whoever doesn’t reform will have to step down! We must let some people get rich first!’ These words were the starting-gun for the country’s opening, and its intense economic reform. In the decades since, Chinese cities have never stopped hungering for more space, with new suburbs swallowing up old villages and steel skyscrapers growing ever higher. Even taxi drivers lose their way. One sheepishly explained to me: ‘That road never used to be there.’ With the economic growth, even ordinary people became billionaires overnight, forming