I was young in 1972 when Nixon went to China, but I still remember the excitement attendant on that visit. For most of us, it was our first look into a formerly hermetically sealed country. Seeing China on the television was almost as exotic as seeing the surface of the moon in 1969 after the Apollo landing. For the Chinese, Westerners were equally exotic. Even as late as 1982, outside of Shanghai or Beijing, Chinese people had often never seen a blonde woman, something a British friend regularly experienced.
While the countryside may have been insular, by the late 1970s, China was opening up to the West and beginning to see opportunities to use its vast human and natural resources to bring money into a country that (like all communist countries) was cash poor. For the West, China’s availability as a manufacturer looked like a boon. Products could be made cheaply there and sold at a good profit in America.
For American consumers, having China make products cheaply also looked like a good deal. Although a lot of factory workers found themselves unemployed as more manufacturing shifted to China […]
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