ZZ's parents got him out of Communist China - but now that he's got his American education (including a law degree), under his belt, and now that China loves a go-getting capitalist like ZZ, what better time to return? America was never the "Wild East" like this one: Beijing is the perfect place to start a business, live large, and get a piece of every lissome girl, hash cigarette and bottle of Cristal China has to offer. ZZ taps into China's unreliable but plentiful workforce of "spit-'n-squatters" to start his brainchild, Goodiez, which delivers food all over Beijing. ZZ is the perfect guide to the real new Beijing: he's got insider's cred but an outsider's eye for the strange mores and daily annoyances of Chinese life. In China High, he offers a rare glimpse into the world of guan xi (a network of favors), the insidious importance of "face", and into the clubs and cafes - with all their above-ground and below-ground pleasures - frequented by the new young professional class in China. But ZZ's glam urban life comes to a crashing halt when he's picked up by the police for smoking an opium-laced pot "Zigarette." None of ZZ's connections do more than get him a few extra dumplings at chow-time in Sunshine Prison, where unable to bribe his way out, he is forced to take a serious look at the life he has been leading.
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