A state of flux
The cluster of change During the early and mid-1990s the Chinese government introduced market principles in the state-run literary system, providing authors with incentives to pursue new professional opportunities outside said system and fostering a boom of ‘commercial literature’ (Jianying Zha, 1995; Kong Shuyu, 2005). While economic reforms in the 1980s lacked a well-defined blueprint, in 1992-1993 the Party leadership set the establishment of a ‘socialist market economy’ and its integration into the global economy as the goal of new, ‘deeper’ reforms (Liu and Dittmer, 2006). Consumerism increasingly defined the way of life of the new urban affluent, while the income gap between this social stratum and the poor widened at an accelerating pace. Meanwhile, a mass culture that re-contextualised influences from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, North America and western Europe flourished in large cities like Shanghai (Liu Kang, 2000; Tang, 2000; Lu, 2001).