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Introduction

Since the 1990s, the food products available in Chinese markets are more diverse than ever. Some of this diversity is due to rural truck farming industries, better transportation, and better information flow concerning new agricultural techniques. The markets are now well stocked and stay open almost all day. Merchants come to markets from the towns all around, converging on the streets, each taking a few feet of space to show their goods amid the buzz and confusion.

Local street markets are the most preferred shopping hubs in China. Goods may be spread out on the pavement or displayed on carriages in the back streets of the market. Here a person can indulge in bargaining for the lowest prices. There are no warranties or guarantees, all sales are final, and no credit cards are accepted.

“Friendship stores” provide a vast range of goods including silk, fragrant tea, wine and spirits, jewelry, antiques, medicinal herbs, rare and exotic live animals, pottery, handicrafts, paintings, and clothing. The items offered in these stores are superior in quality, so prices tend to be higher there than elsewhere.

Markets allow people to work with each other directly without outside direction. In the late 1970s, markets became important centers of economic liberalization. Many villages and townships were beginning to experiment with small, quasi-private, food production industries. Shandong Village had a privately operated steamed bread plant and flour mill under contract to the village committee even before 1976. In the markets, people and products mix freely. Everyone depends on the profits from the commerce.

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