In Orange County, when I ask a resident, Tong Xiaobo, about the appeal of the development, he explains that the American lifestyle represents health and freedom. What about it, exactly, is healthy, I ask. In America, after all, we associate suburban sprawl with the sedentary lifestyle that has led to our national obesity epidemic. The healthy aspect of the design that stood out, Tong explains, was having a bathroom next to the bedroom. Traditional Chinese homes have only one bathroom, shared by all the residents. Orange County’s homes boast lavish bathrooms adjoining the master bedroom complete with his-and-hers sinks and a Jacuzzi. Tong extolled the additional bathroom as “an innovation in construction and design [that] represents modern health.” He then lit up a cigarette. Having explained what he meant by “health,” I pressed him to explain what he meant by “freedom.” He simply ignored the question.
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