McDonald's, the world-famous American fast food franchisor, entered mainland China in 1990, when Chinese franchise law did not even exist. In this once-closed country whose market only opened up to foreign investors in 1978, McDonald's had to adapt to an unfamiliar and rapidly changing environment. Not only was food culture in China vastly different from that in the West, but food culture, lifestyles and legal structure were altering as a result of surging economic growth and massive urbanization. Competition was also intensifying as local and foreign restaurants sought to capitalize on China's increasing affluence. As the growing middle class demanded higher standards from these companies, McDonald's local business practices in terms of food healthiness, employee welfare and other socio-environmental issues were put under close scrutiny in China. While the nation's booming economy provided environmental conditions suitable for fast-food culture, the environment also posed challenges to the survival of fast-food operators in the country. Would McDonald's be able to sustain its momentum as China transformed into a developed nation?
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