As the sun fades below a hill, a chill enters the air, but my fans hold their ground. They’re still watching. That was December 2009. Just me and my board, enjoying great waves. But a year after returning home to North Carolina , I heard about sudden changes on Hainan that didn’t seem possible. In a country where having a tan denotes a lower social class, where few know how to swim and a surfboard is worth several month’s wages, news of surﬁ ng taking hold here seemed rather absurd. After all, surﬁng is a solo, self-indulgent sport. Could it ever thrive in a nation where “we” always trumps “me”? And could it spell greater changes in China well beyond the beach? I had to come back to see for myself.