For half a century, the U.S.-China relationship was almost exclusively the purview of political and business elites: Henry Kissinger scheming with an aging Mao Zedong; CEOs salivating over a billion new customers. It was something that ordinary Americans only experienced in the form of pink slips at their factories or “Everyday Low Prices” at Wal-Mart.
But, in the last five years, all of that has changed. Chinese citizens, companies, and capital have arrived on U.S. soil in force, and they’re making their impact felt across small towns, college campuses, and corporate America.
The trend is national, but the epicenter is in California. As the top destination for Chinese investors, students, tourists, and homebuyers, California is the living laboratory for a new paradigm in U.S.-China relations. This new paradigm is built on grassroots ties and face-to-face interactions. I call it Chinafornia.
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