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    It's a long way from the east side of Detroit to the east side of China, but that's the story of Jerry Schafer's career under the Golden Arches.

    Schafer, 53, is senior vice president and chief operating officer at McDonald's China. He grew up in the Motor City and later moved to Eastpointe as part of a working-class family. He began working at McDonald's at 16 to earn a little pocket change."I started working there because they were located only six blocks from my house,"he says.

    Schafer was a hard worker and soon was promoted to management positions.

    When McDonald's top brass went looking for someone to help oversee things in the world's fastest-growing market -- China and its 1.3 billion people -- Schafer was tapped.

    He moved to Hong Kong in 2003 and Shanghai in 2004 with his wife, Brenda, whom he met in South Carolina, where they worked in a McDonald's regional office.

    "The people are great, the culture is great and their work ethic is strong,"Schafer says. "When you see their resilience and work ethic and spirit, you can see why the nation has been around 5,000 years."

    By year's end, Schafer says the chain will have 875 restaurants in China, with a goal of 1,000 by the end of 2008.