When remembering China’s turbulent 20th century—marked by war, famine and chaotic political campaigns—it’s easy to overlook the decade when things started quieting down: the 1980s.
The decade that saw Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms begin to unfold was among the most transformative and vibrant periods in modern Chinese history. It was an era of unprecedented openness and self-discovery; one that allowed the entire nation to find a new identity.
In today’s episode we’re joined by Zhang Lijia, author of Socialism is Great!: A Worker’s Memoir of the New China. In 1980, at age 16, Zhang began working at a Nanjing factory. She watched everything around her change as she herself came of age.
We discuss with Zhang life in China as it transitioned from puritanical socialism to a more individualistic and ambitious society.
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