What kinds of people are wealthy in China?
There are now (in the last 20 years or so) more economic classes of people. The middle class has expanded greatly do to "free enterprise".
Can you be a small business owner and get rich?
Yes, you can now, and many are! The government used to control so much that they even chose your job for you now there is freedom to decide for yourself.
I have asked about Dr.'s salaries...haven't got a clear answer, but it seems from what I observe that Dr.'s are paid well if it is their own practice or if they specialize. The medical costs here are SO much lower than in the US but in comparison to their economy it is high for a lower income person and there is no assistance from Gov. In fact the payment must be made for any medical services before the service is done and the hospital stay bill must be settled everyday in cash.
Is there competition in business like there is in the US?
Well, there seems to be lots of competition but little 'drive' to get more of the 'pie' so to speak. The attitude is so relaxed in this, we are always shocked by it. I think the attitude is, 'there are so many people, another person will come along in 2 seconds, if you don't want it he will'.
Customer service is non-existent, such as if you order a coffee and it tastes horrible you cannot get your money back, too bad, you bought it, it's yours. There are amazingly identical type businesses side by side or an entire street selling the same thing. Such as cell phones - you will see one, two or three floors of a shopping mall full of cubicles/kiosks selling cell phones! (I always wonder how the guy in the very back corner ever gets a customer).
What are the incentives for working hard?
I imagine there are but it probably only exists in very advanced businesses (usually Western based companies carrying over the Western approach). Your average Chinese business is not run that way, quite the opposite. You will see employees 'resting' at their station. Many times when I go to the market after lunch (rest time) I must wake up the seller who has their head down on the table.
In fact every business is WAY over staffed...when I asked about this I was told that if the owner asks the employees to work harder so he can hire less people the business owner will have difficulty keeping any employees. The reason why is they will go down the street to another company that has more staff to do the same work and get a job there. The employer here is also expected to provide housing for all the employees and usually a meal or meals while on duty.
How does the government redistribute wealth and resources?
The gov. is involved greatly in building projects of all kinds. The gov. owns ALL the land. No citizen can own land, they can own a building on the land but not the land. They lease the land usually with a 99 year lease.
Is everyone really cared for or does the system break down?
Medically no one is given care no matter what the circumstance, if you don't have money you don't get help (even a suffering child) And Charities are virtually unknown here, if they exist it is usually a Western established charity brought over to help, but even that the gov. is very tough on them, you would not think so but they are worried about losing face. You see if a charity is 'needed' then something must be wrong with the 'system' and that doesn't look good.
Is there good care for things like cancer?
What about a broken arm?
SEE ABOVE....It does not matter how severe...no $...no care.
Does the government only own all the land (property) or does it also own other property like printing presses or buildings for private businesses?
They control all media. Even the Internet is controlled. The Chinese citizens cannot access all sites on the web. And not all truth is told through the media if the gov. decides not to tell the whole story.
What are taxes like?
Hard for me to get a feel for this (we did not make enough money to be taxed) but I can say no one complains about it that I have heard. It is also very corrupt. It is not collected in the same manner as the US. The US takes it directly from your paycheck. The Chinese tax system is complex and I don't completely understand it but I have seen examples such as a Restaurant will offer a 'gift' at the register if you do not take an official receipt (which is called a fa pi ow). If the customer does not take the fa pi ow then the owner does not have to declare that sale.
Much higher than the US?
I don't think so.
In the US, we hear (and worry) about China gaining power and control as a super-power a lot. Do you hear about that in China as well?