15 in a Billion

With 1.4 billion citizens, mainland China is the world's most populous country—and home to one in five women on our planet, from rice farmers to multimillionaires. Photographer Kate Peters and writer Abigail Haworth capture a portrait of a nation in dramatic flux through 15 women.

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    High-Class Mistress

    Yixuan Wang, 29

    Keeping mistresses (or concubines) has long been a status symbol for rich Chinese men. The practice was stamped out under communism, but it's back with a vengeance as the country modernizes. Wang, an exotic dancer from the freezing northern city of Harbin and shown here in an upscale Beijing shopping center, came to the capital in her early 20s and has been an ernai, or "second wife," ever since. Her string of married boyfriends has bought her luxury homes, cars, and designer clothes. But it's a competitive business. At only 29, Wang has had numerous cosmetic procedures, including breast and eyelid surgery, to help "keep her looks."

    Kate Peters
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