I'm sitting on a darkened patio of a club called Viva in the Futian district of Shenzhen. It's not too late - about 1am - and the place is busy but not full. It's mostly ex-pats here, folks who work at the various sourcing companies nearby. This place is so anti-China that it almost looks European. Techno is blaring out of the bar and there's a pool table. Down the way is a coffee house where English teachers from Vermont are playing chess. A little further down is a Tuscan restaurant run by a real Italian who sits at his own table and eyes the clientele. One plate of pasta there costs more than what the average Chinese makes in a week.
This is the other Shenzhen. It's a cocoon, perhaps, or an escape. It used to be worse. There used to be one bar where all the ex-pats went. It was just like in Prague where, for years, there were only one or two spots they flocked to, where they isolated themselves from the tumult of a post-Communist society.