Rob Gifford’s piece of reportage from China in the new issue of Prospect opens with the staggering statistic that there are 49 Chinese cities with a population of over 1m. One of these is Hefei (4.7m). Heard of it? Thought not. Almost unknown outside of China, the inland city aspires to be the country’s answer to Silicon Valley by 2020. Gifford paid a visit to Hefei as part of his journey along China’s new Route 312, and found a bustling city whose aspirations are emblematic of the future of China—and whose success raises thorny questions about the relationship between political and economic freedom.