Wanted: A New Miracle

Yu Haibo for TIME

Chinese consumers shopping at a sports store in Luohu, Shenzhen

Wang Shaobi was just 7 years old, growing up dirt poor in southeast China, when the world she would inherit changed forever. It was 30 years ago this month — December, 1978 — when China's leadership decided the time had come for their country to open up its economy and to embrace something akin to capitalism. The monumental shift — China under Mao Zedong had been a centrally planned economic disaster — reflected the growing, behind-the-scenes influence of a man few in the West had then heard of: Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. China, the ruling Communist Party decreed back...

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