China shifts to a drive-through culture – Simon Montlake

From the Christian Science Monitor (link):

Lunchtime in China’s footwear capital, where giant factories spit out shoes for sale on four continents, is an object lesson in globalization and the evolution of a brash boomtown.

Ever since China cracked open the door to foreign capitalism in the late 1970s, it has been shifting gears at a furious pace. At times, the breathless rush of development can be disorienting, not to say destructive.

But there’s comfort in the unbending traditions that endure in China. Until now, I counted among them family mealtimes, the clatter of chopsticks over communal plates. For my own Chinese-American in-laws, this is the social ritual that trumps all others. Scoffing down a burger at the wheel is a poor substitute, and I found it odd to imagine a nation of convivial diners surrendering their birthright.

It’s no accident that McDonald’s opened its first drive-through in Dongguan last December. Local newspapers have estimated that one in three Dongguan households, excluding the vast migrant workforce, own an automobile, making it one of the highest rates in China. Slick new highways cut through the city, dotted with speed cameras that catch out-of-town motorists unawares.

See also BBC News’ “McDonald’s bets on Chinese growth

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