My parents picked up a copy of National Geographic's Journey Into China, which was published in 1983. I haven't gone through much of the 500-page book, but I immediately flipped to the section on South China to read the writer's impression of the region as well as look at the photos of places I've been. I'm not surprised that two of the most prominent parts of South China are Gulangyu and Xiamian--islands in Guangzhou and Xiamen that are home to colonial-style structures.
On the journey through Guangzhou, the author, David Pearce, mentions that it is the center of a growing import and export industry--at the time they produced bicycles, watches, and radios. He also mentions that Beijing eliminated customs duties to and from Taiwan in 1979. The quote that accompanies this is that "There are no politics in business." Quite a change from what is in the news lately.
I'll have to read through more to see how some of my favorite destinations have changed in 27 years.