Day Eighty-Five: Wealth

A black Ferrari parked on the streets of Shanghai is actually not as rare as you might imagine.

A black Ferrari parked on the streets of Shanghai is actually not as rare as you might imagine.

My American perception of China, prior to moving here, was firmly rooted in the last century, the ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970’s, the government crackdown on the student unrest of 1989 and the emergence of China as the manufacturing replacement for the United States’ industrial heartland. Despite the growth of China’s new middle-class, the urbanization of its population, the skyrocketing skylines of Chinese cities and the increasing evidence of China’s growing wealth, the mental image of China as an emerging economy, not fully developed, is deeply rooted. Nothing prepared me for the conspicuous wealth on display in Shanghai. Everyone dressed in identical, drab Mao suits? Nope, how about Gucci, Prada, Yves St. Laurent, Hugo Boss and other top designers. A tangled cluster of bicycles filling the streets? Nah, more like Porsche Cayman’s, BMW X5’s, Audi A6’s, Maserati’s and Ferrari’s.
Don’t get me wrong, not everybody is wealthy, or even middle-class, but there are a lot of ultra-wealthy people in Shanghai and they aren’t shy about it.

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