My guess is that the recent popularity of puzzles in China has to do with a few things.
The one-child policy
makes parents want the absolute best for their one kid. This translates into very education-focused toys. It's not an accident that the Chinese descriptions of many twisty puzzles focus on "IQ" and "intelligence" and "brain" benefits.
The second big factor is that it has recently become economically viable for the average Chinese public to purchase non-essential items:
china_gdp.gif [ 7.67 KiB | Viewed 525 times ]
I suspect the desire for twisty puzzles has been there for a long time but the rapid expansion of the market should closely reflect the rapid expansion of China's GDP.