Cover Story Return to China: One reporter finds a nation that has gone from bicycles to bullet trains

For a visiting journalist, the country of today feel worlds away from the China she first encountered decades earlier.

Aly Song/Reuters/File

The ultra-sleek bullet train, floating on a magnetic cushion, accelerates as it leaves Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport for the megacity of 24 million people. Outside, a futuristic metropolis unfolds. Curved skyscrapers and raised freeways flash by until they blur. Inside the car, green digits above the doorway shoot upward: 200 kilometers per hour ... 300 ... 431.