Producer 1990 Institute 
Overview The economic rise in China in the past 50 years resulted in tremendous changes in its citizens’ daily lives and can be illustrated by the contents of “Mrs. Wong’s” purse. From the end of the Cultural Revolution to the opening of China and to the lives of its people today, there have been enormous changes in virtually every aspect of a person’s life in China. Although Mrs. Wong is a fictitious character in the above video, her experience reflects that of many Chinese people living through five decades of policy and economic change. This page contains additional materials, including those the 1990 Institute used as references for the video, for further exploration of the subject; as well as a lesson guide and other materials for 9-12 grade teachers.

Video Time Codes

0:000:42 The Beginning of a 50 Year Story

0:431:26 What was in Mrs. Wong’s Purse in the 1970s? 

1:273:38 Life in China during the Cultural Revolution 

3:394:27 Life after the Death of Mao since 1979  

4:285:10 China’s Opening and Reform since 1992

5:115:25 China’s Economic Phenomenon since 2000 

5:268:00 What is in Mrs. Wong’s Purse in Present Day China?

Publish Date February 28, 2022
For Teachers Downloadable Lesson Guide: Mrs. Wong’s Purse Lesson Guide, 1990 Institute

China Under Mao | 2015, Standard SPICE Project

Ensemble  | 2013, SPICE Stanford

Introduction to the Cultural Revolution | 2001, SPICE Stanford 

Lesson Plan and resources  | Standard SPICE Project

Silk Road Ensemble: The Road to Beijing – Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road, FSI, Stanford

Reference Materials Read: Ash Center research team unveils findings from long-term public opinion survey | 2021, Taking China’s pulse, National World Affairs, The Harvard Gazette

Beijing 1986: Portraits of a forgotten China, 2020 Financial Times

China Average Yearly Wages | 2021,Trading Economics

China GDP Per Capita 1960-2021 | 2021, Macrotrends

China’s economic growth and poverty reduction (1978-2002) | 2002, International Monetary Fund

China’s Miracle Demystified | 2010 blog, World Bank Blogs

Daniel Kurtz-Phelann, Can China keep rising, 2021, Foreign Affairs 

David Himbara, In 1960, China Was Poorer Than Most African Countries. But Here Is China Bankrolling Africa | 2018, Medium

David Rosnic, Mark Weisbrot, and Jacob Wilson, The Scorecard on Development, 1960–2016: China and the Global Economic Rebound, 2017, Center for Economic and Political Research

Economic Rebound | 2016, Center for Economic and Policy Research

In China, 1980 marked a generational turning point, 2015, Pew Research


Debunking Myths about China’s Economy – Yukon Huang, 2017, World Affairs

How China Became So Powerful– Johnny Harris, 2021.


China, US & the Future of Global Economics. (Chapter 1-14) | 2021, One Day University

China’s Cultural Revolution: Rewriting a Nation | 2014, Stuff You Missed in History Class

The Chinese Communist Party at 100 | 2021, Sinica Podcast  (transcript)

Episode 83-90 | The Cultural Revolution (Part 1-8) | 2012, The China History Podcast

It’s Complicated: Getting our heads around a changing China, Kaiser Kuo, Oct 28, 2021, Sinica podcast, SupChina 

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