China's New Capitalism

As the state sector crumbles, dynamic private companies are taking up some of the slack

Zhang Yue, the normally taciturn chief executive of privately owned Broad Air Conditioning, jumps up from his desk and rushes to his office window. It is a grey, drizzly August afternoon on the outskirts of Changsha, a sprawling central Chinese city in Hunan province dotted with the smokestacks of ailing state-owned industries and the rice fields of disgruntled, overtaxed farmers. But Zhang, 38, isn't focusing on this bleak scene. Instead, he watches eagerly as his company's Bell 206 helicopter takes off in a whir from the helipad just outside his window. "It's very useful for company business--and helps to stimulate one's imagination," Zhang says enthusiastically of his chopper.

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