Jul 10th 2021
FIVE OR SIX years ago, when many Chinese still associated American culture with novelty and fun, Halloween was big business in Caoxian. This rural county claims to be China’s largest source of cheap costumes for children’s parties and school concerts as well as for dramatic galas that are sometimes staged in Chinese workplaces, from small factories to government ministries. Not long ago, Caoxian’s entrepreneurs could live for a year on one month’s sales of pumpkin costumes, witches’ robes and other Halloween paraphernalia, says Ren Yafeng, a local costume merchant, perhaps exaggerating just a little.
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In the past three years, however, America’s image has darkened and consumers have become more nationalistic, nudged by Communist Party propaganda and four years of Trumpian bluster. The market…