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Nation looks back and forward, 30 years after landmark reform
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Xu Shenqiu was a teacher in his home province of Shandong when China ushered in an era of reform. In the late 1980s he followed his friends into business and in a few years built up a fortune by running a department store in the northeastern Jilin Province.

Now at 54, Xu and his wife are on a two-week trip to Antarctica.

"Perhaps this is my parents' unique way to celebrate 30 years of reform and opening up," said Xu Yuan, 27, a journalism major at Japan's Doshisha University.

While Xu feels her father was like a "guinea pig" when he first tried his hand at business, she is proud of what he has achieved so far.

"When he started, he was just dreaming of a more exciting life. He ended up with excitement and a much bigger fortune than he could imagine."

As one of several hundred million Chinese born after 1978, Xu has benefited every bit from the fruits of reform and spectacular economic growth.

The only child at home, Xu never experienced the hardship and austerity her parents and some of her rural peers went through. A straight-A student throughout college and graduate school, she was able to decide what she really wanted -- a well-paid job in the capital, or a scholarship to study abroad.

After three years of study in Japan, the dream of an exciting life, which her father once had, now influences her.

The seemingly quiet, bespectacled young woman is planning to find a job in Beijing after graduation. "I'm sure it offers more opportunities and challenges than many other places in the world."

Like many Chinese living abroad, Xu keeps in touch with her old friends via MSN and shares their tears and laughter. She posted diaries on her blog to mourn the thousands of lives lost in the May 12 earthquake and celebrate Beijing's success in hosting the Olympic Games.

She was in a crowd of Chinese students who saw the Olympic torch relay in Nagano. It's experiences and opportunities like this, which her parents never had 30 years ago.

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