Middle-class wannabes

A woman cycles past a screen showing a news conference by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after the closing session of the National People's Congress, in Beijing, China, on 28 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

600 million Chinese earn 1,000 RMB a month — so are the Chinese rich or poor?

Zaobao's Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu often marvels at the spending power of Chinese white-collar workers around her, and she too was surprised when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang remarked that China has 600 million people with a monthly income of 1,000 RMB. That is more than 40% of the Chinese population, and the figures portray a reality that is starkly different from common perception. Are Chinese people moving up the income ladder and are their lives becoming better as is the common refrain? Yang examines the facts.
Middle-class wannabes in the same boat: it may look like a luxurious yacht to outsiders, but it’s hardly stable. Financial instability threatens to rock the boat and those in it are using it as a guise to hide their insecurities. (Graphic: Jace Yip)

The emergence of the Chinese “middle-class wannabes” and their race towards a higher social status

China’s “middle-class wannabes” live on the margins of a lower-middle class income, leading seemingly glamorous lives, but what goes on behind the scenes is a life laden with tough challenges and insecurities.