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Even for those of us who have lived through and witnessed at close range the amazing social and economic progress in the past 30 years of reforms, it is not always easy to recapture the excitement of the process that we want to imbibe in our collective memory. We simply didn’t know where to start.

That’s why this book -- a tribute to the 30th anniversary of economic reforms -- is so useful and inspiring.

We undertake this project with the purpose of reconstructing through spirited writing based on meticulous research and stirring pictures selected from our expansive archive, the thrill of the moment of walking into the first KFC outlet in China, or attending the topping out ceremony of Jinmao Tower, which was then the tallest building in the region.

This book is dedicated to the pioneering spirit of those enterprises, domestic and foreign, which had placed their faith in China’s economic reforms, which is unprecedented both in daring and scope. Everyone in the business is aware that it takes courage, vision and commitment to start something new in an untried marketplace that is in a flux of change. This was the state of the Chinese economy in the earlier stages of economic reforms. To be sure, all those first business ventures on the mainland were products of extensive research and planning. But the risk factor would still have been considerable because there was simply no established sales and marketing model to follow.

In those pioneering days, the tools to gauge consumers’ preferences were rudimentary. The advertising and promotion channels were limited, and government policy on private-sector business was still evolving, creating many "firsts" in the process.

Under these circumstances, the impact of those enterprises that had the foresight to introduce a new product or a service, or build something spectacular on the mainland, was far-reaching. In doing so, they have set an example or initiated a trend that touches on the lives of millions of people.

Of course, there were those who tried and failed. But many more have built on the success of their first forays into an uncharted market and expanded their businesses at a pace matching China’s economic growth in the past 30 years.

The topics in this book were chosen by a team of editors with extensive experience in covering China’s economic development. Many of them were reporters on the scene at the time, witnessing those moments and sharing the experience of some of the events mentioned in the book.

Some topics were chosen because they have fundamentally changed the social and economic landscape of the nation. "Seeds of Change", which tracks the progress of agricultural reforms, falls in this category. Also included are "A Legal Leap Forward" on the evolution of China’s environmental laws, and "Taking Stock", which recounts the ups and downs of the fledgling capital market.

Other topics were picked for the direct impact they have had on the daily lives of the people. "Facelift" portraits the drastic change in the concept of fashion as economic wealth began to filter down to the masses; "In the Beginning" chronicles the dawn of the cyber age in China; and "The Chinese Wave" narrates how economic prosperity has triggered an outbound tourist boom.

Some topics in the book capture the public’s mood when the Chinese people were first exposed to foreign culture represented in the form of fast food chains and foreign movies.

We have taken the liberty of including a chapter on China Daily in this book because it was the first English-language daily newspaper in China with a mission to foster greater understanding of China and its developments by foreign readers. This book is published with the same mission in mind.

Zhu Ling

Editor-in-chief of China Daily

August 28, 2008

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