China's economic reforms have transformed the country's cities and the lifestyles of many residents.
It has the world's fastest growing economy, with millions moving to the country's rapidly expanding cities.
As part of the BBC's China Week, BBC World Service spoke to some of the new generation of Chinese experiencing rapid change.
Ai Weiwei is one of the stars of China's art world.
Over the past decades, although he's trod carefully along, he has occasionally stepped across the boundaries of the permissible.
But despite his soaring reputation overseas, he has not yet held a solo show in China - saying the country is "not yet ready." Five years ago he was the curator of a show that was shut down by the police which included self-mutilation, human corpses and body parts.
Recently Ai Weiwei's been working with the Swiss architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron to design China's national Olympic stadium for the 2008 Olympic games.
I think China as a society has been closed up for half a century. In the past twenty years it's started to open up.
The economic change and political change has really created a very strong interest in what's going on in this very big society, whose population is one-fifth of the whole world.
Everything is changing and happening in such a dramatic way, and it's all reflected in Chinese art.
This artwork represents a traditional Chinese coffin, twisted out of shape - a subtle comment on official corruption.
The Chinese coffin - a subtle comment on official corruption
In Chinese, a coffin is called a guancai. Chinese words have a double meaning - "guan" also means "high official" and "cai" means "money" or "prosperity." So this (work) deals with today's values and situation.
On the one hand, there's much freedom. Almost anything can go, almost anything is possible. On the other hand, there's still a system there.
Certain areas, certain taboos can't be touched. There's still censorship there.
You really have to be very alert about where is the fine line, the border.
You don't know exactly where it is, you have to be intelligent.