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The number of foreigners in our neighbourhood has doubled in one fell swoop. It was already set to increase thanks to my South African neighbour, who is building a 120-room resort with all the trimmings, including stables. But it was a surprise to meet five Germans in the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Wukang, our nearest town.

They looked happy in the way that foreigners do when they’ve eaten too much rice and bean curd and then discovered the only western food chain for miles. The only English speaker told me they were engineers at a copper cable factory—a German-Chinese joint…

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