It is hard to believe that only 35-40 years ago China was a closed , communist country with masses of people donning matching Mao jackets and waving Little Red Books. Today, poverty still entraps hundreds of millions of people, but hundreds of millions more have migrated into a newly formed middle class, over a million people have attained millionaire status and 358 former communists are now billionaires. Income inequality, with Chinese characteristics, is an ever-increasing reality of life in Red China.
Going to meet some new friends for lunch, today, I walked past “The Keymaster” manning his grinding machine under the elevated pedestrian walkway where he boosts electricity from the escalator control room, the street corner barber with his wobbly chair and cracked mirror and encountered a blind beggar on the subway, badly singing Chinese Opera. I then entered the IFC Mall and the world of China’s privileged class. I have seen more conspicuous consumption during my 5 months in Shanghai than in my entire lifetime in the United States. The Chinese are pursuing wealth at breakneck speed and when they obtain it they want everyone to know.
Next week while I am in Beijing I plan on visiting Mao’s mausoleum to see if he is spinning like a top.