On the Road in China, Part 1: The Journey Begins

Booming Shanghai, Starting Point for Cross-Country Trek

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Women sew clothes at the Huashang factory in Shanghai. Many young workers come from the countryside to the city, where they can earn far more than at home. Rob Gifford, NPR hide caption

ยป SEE A MAP OF GIFFORD'S JOURNEY, MORE ON THE SERIES
itoggle caption Rob Gifford, NPR
Map showing Rob Gifford's western route across China

Map showing Rob Gifford's western route across China Geoffrey Gaudreault, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Geoffrey Gaudreault, NPR

If the 21st century belongs to China, then the city that will be at the heart of that success will be Shanghai. The boomtown on China's eastern Pacific shores attracts migrants from thousands of miles away who come seeking higher wages in a sea of factories.

Home to much of China's new and growing middle class, the city is also the starting point of Route 312, reminiscent of the old U.S. Route 66, which will take NPR's Rob Gifford on a 3,000-mile journey across the country to China's westernmost reaches. It's the first of seven reports from his 14-day trek.

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