The Chinese dragon is a creature associated with water. Unlike its Western fire-breathing cousin, it is a benevolent creature whose flight through the clouds brings life-giving water to farmers each spring.
Understanding China's consumer culture is a good starting point for understanding the nation itself, as it races toward superpower status. Material similarities between Chinese and Americans mask fundamentally different emotional impulses.
Chinese society is racing forward, but the traditional pillars of individual identity -- the family and the nation -- remain robust. It remains a society of "belongers." Outsiders are, now and forever, outcasts.