In imperial times, many Chinese on the receiving end of injustices in the provinces would travel to the seat of the emperor in the hope of redress from a benevolent ruler.

One of the world's largest footwear manufacturers, Yue Yuen, is in many ways typical. A Taiwanese firm listed in Hong Kong, it has numerous factories based in the southern China manufacturing belt, making shoes emblazoned with stripes and swooshes for sale around the world.

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