As most of you know, I’m in the States for a few weeks visiting family. During my time here, I’ve realized just how much interest there is in China at the moment, and how little people know about China.
So today I’m going to share my answers to the three questions I’ve been asked the most.
1. Does China have rich people? China has some incredibly rich people, but the bar is lower to be considered rich. A few months ago China’s first yacht club opened up and the requirement for joining was a yearly salary of 200,000rmb (about $30,000). So by this measure a good chunk of Americans would be considered rich, but the top doctors at my hospital wouldn’t make the cut. The largest concentration of rich people live on the east coast.
China also has about 35 million people who make less than $125 a year (China does not use the dollar a day standard for measuring poverty). This gap between rich and poor is one of the gov’ts top concerns.
2. Why do you shop in the US, aren’t things cheaper there? Sure things are cheaper in China, but those items rarely hold up very well. I had a friend who told me that in the early 80’s they had “weekly shoes” because they fell apart that fast. So I try to avoid buying things in that price range.
Yet, when I went to the mall to buy a new coat, I couldn’t find one for less than $200. It was ridiculous. I looked at 15 stores or so before I was finally able to buy an acceptable looking coat at the supermarket, but the quality is questionable (it only needs to make it through 2 winters).
One of the major complaints I’ve heard from my Chinese coworkers is that there is nothing between luxury and economy. The example was that you could buy a $10 watch or a $1,000 watch, but if you bought one in between those two, there was no way of knowing if it would last more than a week.
3. Do you get tired of eating Chinese food every day? When I lived in the countryside, I got tired of eating Chinese food, but this was mostly due to the limited number of restaurants and flavors. In Nanjing we have Chinese food from every province (lots of different flavors), but we also have KFC, McD, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, and some small Italian, French, American, Mexican, Indian and even Turkish restaurants. A much better selection than most of the Midwest.