My cousin managed to leave coastal China (relatively well-off compared to interior in my understanding) in ~1985. We lived in the D.R., a place with no potable tap water, no real garbage collection, and electricity maybe a few hours a day. It was still better than China. He only got to eat eggs on his birthday. They used to say if you ate the egg you wouldn’t get a chicken later.
My point is, the poverty was pretty recent, my generation, don’t need to go as far back as my grandparents after WW2.
I went to China’s interior about 10 years ago, near the border of Tibet. Those people are really nice in there. Much nicer than the queue-pushing big-city folk. Even thought I couldn’t talk to them (I don’t speak Mandarin), I actually felt a sort of kinship because my family was mostly farmers. Anyway, the story is my sister needed a bathroom. Some young girl, probably 15-16 shows her one. She thought it was so disgusting she could not go in there. It cost ten cents or something. This girl wasn’t our guide or anything. She was just being polite.
She then took us far away to another bathroom that cost a quarter. In some casual chatting she mentions she’s never gone there because it’s too expensive. The implication is that she uses the one that was so disgusting my sister wouldn’t go there. She refused to take money from my mother. The part that I remember most is my mother said her shoes were very bad. I don’t notice shoes but apparently they showed poverty. It was pretty sad and made me feel guilty of being spoiled and lucky.