A year of exploration in the Far West

In 2009 I left Beijing and moved to New York. It was a return to the United States for me: until 2004 I had lived on the other coast, in San Francisco. Those five years in between in China seemed as long as a century. Not for me, but for the balance of power between Asia and the West. When I left California, China was still a student, busy emulating its American teacher. I returned to find an America exhausted by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, a crisis that China avoided, in a masterly way, using the leverage of its state capitalism or “market dirigisme.” And so history had a sudden acceleration. It was clear that the 21st Century would be Asian, but the East’s fast rise soon gave the impression that the die had already been cast. China seems master of its own destiny, set on a fast track to modernization while America laboriously drags itself out of the darkness.

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