The China Syndrome

Twelve years ago Shu Yin Lee was a young American who pretty much thought life couldn't get any better. He was a vice president at Goldman Sachs, working in Hong Kong. He had a $10,000-a-month housing allowance, a paid-for membership to a fancy club, a private Mandarin tutor coming to the office every day, and a princely investment-banking paycheck. And he was all of 27 years old. "I remember thinking once, what's wrong with this picture," he says. "And the answer was: pretty much nothing."

In the coming years, Shu, like so many other Americans of Chinese descent,...

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