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China café

A few years ago, urban Chinese shunned the countryside. But they’re starting to see the appeal

By Mark Kitto   February 2010

Chinese urban society is reaching a turning point. City dwellers are beginning to think about returning to the countryside. Not to live and work—who’d want to be a peasant again?—but just for the weekend.

It is a gradual process (unusually for China) and it would have been unthinkable a few years ago. As often predicted, the country’s emerging middle class has embraced consumer culture, acquiring first a television, next a washing machine, then a fridge, and more recently a satellite dish, car and iPhone. And now, in a more surprising and less noticed shift, they want to return to the…

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