China is no longer merely the country that manufactured your iPod. Today, it's the epicenter of the biggest technological transformation in the history of the world: 1.3 billion data- and gadget-hungry individuals crowding into the 21st century at a pace that makes Silicon Valley look practically Amish in comparison.
With 700 million cellphones, 338 million Internet users and millions more of each added every month, the tech world no longer treats China as a factory. Venture capitalists are pouring money into its every hint of innovation, and companies are opening their eyes to a billion potential customers. Meanwhile, that breathless growth and baffling scale is tangled up with a protectionist, information-suppressing government and one of the world's most active piracy industries.
All these things considered, China adds up to a very different face for the future. Welcome to the world's next technological dynasty.