Xiyatu is marked not only by its cultural heritage as a Chinese city, but also by its ongoing relationship with the mainland. Beginning with computers, but expanding to other manufactured consumer goods, Xiyatu is a mercantile clearinghouse for Chinese exports. Washer-dryers, lawn mowers, lawn chairs — China is, once again, the source of nearly all manufactured consumer goods in America, and all of them pass through Xiyatu.
Most of Xiyatu’s non-computing businesses are, in essence, middlemen. They buy goods from the mainland, ship them to Xiyatu, and sell them across the continent. Convoys hauling these goods leave the city daily. (And most hire Guns.) This is actually a fairly lucrative business, since these goods can command premium prices in the Fed and other polities, even if cheaply manufactured.
The city is a boomtown (the population having doubled in the last 10 years), with all the benefits and problems that implies (such as increasing crime and inflation). It attracts the poor and desperate, who come here looking for work, many of whom are turned away (that any are let in at all is due to the decrees of the dragons). Those who are allowed to stay can find work as convoy guards, loaders, or drivers (though labor alliances are changing this), manual laborers (especially on the docks and in agriculture), and household servants.
Yang guizi, non-Chinese, now comprise about 45% of the population (Chinese are 50% and Beyonders are 5%). (Yang guizi means “foreign devil”, a derogatory term, though most Americans in the city believe it means “Yankee”, and have Anglicized it as “yangui”.) Non-Chinese are decidedly second-class citizens. They can’t hold government positions, lack voting rights, and are second in line for all jobs, behind full-blooded Chinese. Nearly all high-paying jobs are reserved for full-bloods.
English is spoken in the city, though only among the yanguis. Putonghua, or Standard Chinese, is the official language of Xiyatu, and all government documents, contracts, and media must be in Standard Chinese. (There is a market for English media, nearly all of which is imported or scavenged from ruins.) English-only speakers make about 80% as much as those yangui who can speak even a little Standard.
The most common religion in the city is Daoism. Daoist principles heavily influenced the magical traditions founded by the First Students. Daoist alchemy heavily influenced the first imbuers, shadow warriors use qigong (meditation techniques taught by Daoists) extensively in their training, shadow walkers (who can sometimes see the future) use the I Ching when attempting to divine, and Daoist principles (including feng shui) are entwined with the original magus traditions.
The dragons have been incorporated into local Daoist beliefs as well, as manifestations of the Xian, the unearthly immortals. Xiyatu citizens honor or revere the dragons as unbelievably wise, and morally perfect, beings who surpass humanity. They include the dragons in their holiday ceremonies, and petition them in their prayers.
(In contrast, the serfs of the city worship their masters, body and soul, but number less than a hundred. The yangui have a very unromantic and jaundiced view of the draconics, though what privileges the yang have are thanks to them. Dragons are evil beasts in Beyonder lore, akin to Satan or devils in Christian tales, beings of great cunning who make grand promises of wealth or success in return for the client selling himself into servitude. Accordingly, most Beyonders fear and resent the Greats.)