Home to the world's oldest continuous civilization and largest population, China has been a communist country since the end of World War II. But since the late 1970s, the country has experienced profound social, economic, and political change. Its rapidly developing market economy stands as the second largest in the world after the United States, and hundreds of millions of its citizens have been lifted out of poverty. This rapid growth has resulted in an emerging middle class whose spending power has redefined the Chinese market. After 30 years of economic liberalization, what were once luxuries—dining out with friends, vacations, and multiple cars—are now seen as rights by the younger Chinese, some of whom are calling for increased freedoms from the communist government. In this new edition of China, learn how the economic changes have started to inspire change in other areas of Chinese life and culture. This revised edition covers recent events, such as the Beijing Olympics, the May 2008 earthquake that killed an estimated 80,000 citizens, and the first spacewalk by a Chinese astronaut.