Posts Tagged ‘billionaires’

Art and Culture – China’s Missing Link?

With a history spanning 5,000 years, China is rich with cultural and artistic treasures – albeit not nearly as wealthy as it should be.

 

There’s no arts and culture killjoy quite like a Cultural Revolution. In just 10 years from 1966-1976, innumerable works of splendid art, antiques, architecture, books and paintings spanning millennia were destroyed by Red Guards. Countless Chinese artists were persecuted and people were encouraged to criticise their cultural institutions. Arts students, or any students for that matter, were shifted en masse from their universities, to raise pigs and grow grain in rural labour camps.

 

Chinese art and culture propaganda

Chinese Propaganda from 1967 translated to "Destroy the old world; Forge the new world." The worker is destroying classical Chinese text, music on vinyl, a crucifix and buddha.

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Who Wants to be a Billionaire in China? Early Death and Lack of Sex

Their mansion cellars are chock-full of the finest burgundies. Their gift cupboards, packed with luxury European goods. As they play real-life monopoly with central London property, their offspring purr around the cities in orange Lamborghinis. In this land of China, where the authorities have traditionally strived for a classless society with common property ownership, the number of US$ billionaires are growing like Jack’s beanstalk.

 

Billionaires in Beijing, China with their toys

Chinese Billionaire’s toys : the Lamborghini and Rolls in Beijing

 

As much of the world suffers through their financial crises, China’s rampant economic growth continues to pump out billionaires. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of Chinese billionaires grew 45% from 130 to 189, from 2010 to 2011, 43% to 271.  China’s tally is now second only to the United State’s 413 mega-wealthy.

 

But China’s actual Billionaire count could be more than double the official figures. Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher from Hurun Rich List 2011, estimates there are a further 300 ‘hidden billionaires’ lurking amongst China’s financial underworld.
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Rugby in China: The Chinese team will be playing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup

In less than 20 days, New Zealand will be overrun with striped jerseys and empty beer vessels as the rugby world converges for the third largest sporting event on the planet, the Rugby World Cup

 

20 nations will be competing for rugby supremacy in the Nile River of rugby tournaments.  Yet in China, the world’s most populous nation, the dedicated following of the rugby will be limited to a few smoky expat bars and a handful of committed Chinese rugby heads (most of whom will be supporting the All Blacks)

 

Chinese rugby fans of the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup. Click here if you’re in China where You Tube Videos are blocked 中国橄榄球的人

 

Rugby: Banned by the Chinese Government

Rugby was once like a Class A drug in China, the bad boy of sports that was banned by the PRC National Sports Council who deemed “the meeting of sullied bodies in physical contact cannot be approved”.

 

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Pretty Chinese Girls Only, Old Fatties Need Not Apply

Survey: 62% of passengers on the Beijing to Shanghai bullet train want the journey to take longer cartoon

Passengers on the Beijing to Shanghai High Speed Train are loving the service; the whole journey seems to be over too soon

 

Imagine you were a young girl in a small Chinese village.  One day exploring the market, you discover a tatty newspaper announcing the development of a shiny new bullet train that will eventually link Beijing to Shanghai in less than five hours.  You look up to the sky and take a deep breath: some day you will work as a stewardess on that glistening train.  But being partial to stuffed pork buns meant you were slightly tubby in 2011, when applications were called to work on that train.  You are the smiley type, and pleasant to be around, but weighing in at 66kg meant you weren’t even considered for an interview.

 

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Who said China was a-changing?

When I was a youngster, China really scared me. I’d been told if everyone in China all jumped at the same time, the whole world would wobble. Although there hasn’t been a coordinated hop, China is without doubt, shaking up the balance of the world.

 

Curiosity has drawn Ellen and me to get in amongst China during this fascinating time in history. I was lucky enough to be working for an Internet company in North America during the dot-com boom, Ireland when the Celtic Tiger was roaring and New Zealand when microwave ovens were introduced, but nowhere has the rate of change been more apparent than in the Middle Kingdom.  This is the biggest boom in history.

 

The rate of change for almost everything in China is staggering; incomes (almost 300% since 2000), car sales (32% last year), the market for art (25% last year), number of billionaires (57% last year).  Even more impressive is the scale of it all – the rates are measured across 1.3 billion people!  And although developing countries have a low starting point to measure growth from, significant tracts of China are long past the ‘developing’ stage.  Shanghai, for example, now has a higher average GDP than parts of southern Europe.

 

suburban_beijing

View northwest to the suburbs of Beijing. This is not downtown, but the burbs, where shiny towers are popping up everywhere



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My wife Ellen and I are currently living in China, bumbling our way around this fascinating and fast-changing country. We kicked off our stay with a semester of Intensive Mandarin studies at Beijing Language and Culture University and are now living in Shanghai. These posts cover some of my experiences, views and curious facts in and around the Middle Kingdom. Please let me know what you think!


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