Middle-class

Internet celebrities flocked to Wuzhong Market over the Golden Week holiday to pose for pictures with vegetables wrapped in Prada packaging. (Xiaohongshu/@超赞小姐姐 (left); Xiaohongshu/@周小晨Kiki)

Chic and trendy wet markets are the in-thing in China

Below-the-line marketing tactics of high-end brand Prada sees a wet market in Shanghai wrapping its walls, stalls and vegetables — yes, even the edibles — in Prada packaging. Lucky shoppers also get to receive limited edition Prada paper bags. And it's not just in Shanghai; trendy markets that have cafes, reading areas, exhibition spaces and bars are popping up in first-tier cities all around China.
A commuter rides his bicycle through an older neighborhood in Shanghai, China, on 30 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Every individual counts: China should go for ‘common development’ rather than ‘common prosperity’

Rather than wealth redistribution per se, the deeper issue lies in achieving social justice and equal opportunities for all. Going by the US example, it might not be wise or even feasible to curtail the riches of the wealthy or to straitjacket their business environment. Instead, they and other members of the community can be encouraged to help bring about equitable access to education and a better life.
Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk down Nanjing East Road in Shanghai, China on 14 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Why China is embarking on the journey of 'common prosperity'

China has set itself the goal of achieving "common prosperity" in the coming years, after realising its goal of "building a moderately prosperous society in all respects". Chinese academic Luo Zhiheng describes this ideal society which is the opposite of a society plagued by a serious wealth gap — people should look forward to improving their quality of life and not worry about their basic needs; social safety nets should also provide basic livelihood protection for the disadvantaged groups. He outlines how China can realise this ideal by harnessing the strength of all who are able and who have "gotten rich first" during the reform and opening up process.
A woman and baby inside a room of a greenhouse at a village on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, 3 June 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China is far from being affluent

Despite slogans and sayings about how China has progressed and become “amazing” or “self-sufficient”, making strides in eradicating absolute poverty does not equate to rising affluence on the whole. Looking at GDP per capita figures, China still has some way to go, says researcher Chen Hongbin. He notes that the Chinese people should not get caught up in their own rhetoric, but keep a clear head and be aware of the actual situation.
This photo taken on 13 June 2021 shows people looking at the city view from a bridge in Shanghai, China. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

The Shanghai middle class: Embracing 'cosmopolitanism with Chinese characteristics'?

Around 400 to 500 million Chinese citizens are thought to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle today. They are an important political and economic force but their political outlook and worldviews are neither homogeneous nor clear-cut. Many of them share certain cosmopolitan values, but some among them are also those with the most strident nationalistic views. How will this key demographic influence China’s relations with the US and the world? Professor Li Cheng, author of Middle Class Shanghai: Reshaping US-China Engagement, tells us more.
"I'm a little red flower."

[Comic] Chinese youths are like little red flowers

Comic artist Baiyi examines the idea of China's "involuted" generation of young people and their "lying flat" attitude towards life. Many Chinese youths are feeling stressed and overworked, as they feel trapped by a narrow definition of success. "Lying flat" or taking themselves out of the game seems to be a spiritual awakening of sorts to re-examine their priorities in life. How did Chinese youths arrive at such a state of being?
Students arrive at a school to take the National College Entrance Examination known as 'gaokao' in Wuhan, Hubei province on 7 June 2021. (STR/AFP)

China's university entrance exam: Do Beijingers get a sweeter deal?

With China’s annual gaokao or university entrance exams ending yesterday, Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at the furore caused by a Beijing student who had left his test centre early and seemingly breezed through the exam. Netizens were quick to point out that regional differences in resources, administration and test papers have led to unfair advantages. In the face of serious concerns, is it time to look this perennial issue squarely in the face?
U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., 13 May 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Can America beat China with Biden’s US$6 trillion stimulus plans?

US-based Chinese researcher Zhou Nongjian takes a close look at Biden’s US$6 trillion stimulus plans to improve the US economy and meet the challenge from China. He asserts that infrastructure-building and poverty assistance plans are stop-gap measures that will not address fundamental problems such as the US’s loss of industries and declining national strength. Is the US president putting the cart before the horse?
A worker plants an American flag along the National Mall in Washington, DC, US, on 18 January 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

The poor in the US and China live different lives

With the Biden administration in place, some fear that the generous social welfare policies Democrat governments tend to implement will further deplete the US’s dwindling coffers. Even as some Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to what they perceive to be socialism, can the Chinese example offer any learning points for the Americans? How were they able to industrialise so quickly and move towards poverty alleviation?