When the Triumph Bonneville was sex on wheels and Roberts radios were avant-garde, “Made in Japan” meant cheap and garish. Those silly little transistor radios— hadn’t they heard of valves? How we laughed at their little noddy bikes that didn’t leak oil and kick started without breaking your ankle. Sony who? Raw fish? Well, the rest is history. So we should not be in the least surprised that “Made in China” means stylish, futuristic, smooth. The only shock is the transition from agrarian to Bladerunner in less than a decade. Young Chinese designers smorgasbord sources from industrialised East Asia, China’s communist past, Russian constructivism and US counter-culture with cosmopolitan nonchalence. But they need to work harder in a world where multicultural western seven year olds understand the kitsch semiotics of Hello Kitty, love retro mobiles, and forgive Mao his eccentricities (those caps and suits were divine). It’s racist, patronising and tiresome to even affect surprise at how modern China has become, but if you still have doubts, visit the V&A and enjoy the Angry Pandas, delicious graphics, beautiful installations and the agitprop skateboards for what they are: the finest Fusion design. I doubt if this exhibition reflects anything close to the reality of life for 98% of Chinese citizens, any more than Hoxton represents Heckmondwike, but why should it? Don’t look for subliminal messages: some of the work on display is mildly subversive, but only in the same way as Chop Suey is authentic peasant fare. Nothing I saw here made me think of tanks and students in big squares; some made me think of Neuromancer, but the overall effect was uplifting and, well, optimistic.I still don’t like sweatshops and the cultural genocide in Tibet, so you’ll be relieved to know that I haven’t been brainwashed. But if China Design Now signals a world which is coming, in one form or another, to your shopping mall soon then we should be as grateful as bikers were when Honda made motorbikes that started in the rain.This is an inspired and well-curated exhibition, (admirably and lavishly sponsored by HSBC). Mao was a bit of a monster, but his kids are good at art— with a surprisingly western sense of humour. Let a thousand designers bloom. In the semiology of global contemporary design, China is proving an expert linguist.