Wednesday, 9 March 2011

China: the luxury - and the misery

It´s boomtime for this German export product in China

These days both Western and Chinese media are full of stories about the booming market for luxury products in China. The communist government openly boasts about how China soon is to overtake Japan as the number one market for luxury products:

BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- China is expected to surpass Japan to become the world's largest consumer of high-end goods by 2015, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Monday.
This shift was attributed to China's large population, rising income and inadequate supplies of home-made high-end brands, Chen told reporters.
Consumption of high-end products in China rose 23 percent in 2010, he said, adding that the number of Chinese people shopping for luxury goods overseas increased 30 percent.
The government will develop the country's own brands and work out measures to let foreign brands sell their China-made products directly in China's market to benefit Chinese consumers, he said.
China will also improve its sales network and strengthen regulations in retail markets to reduce charges in circulation, he said.
The Economist is equally excited - the luxury products will "add a little color" to the lifes of chinese consumers:
China’s growing taste for bling is a good thing not only for makers of luxury goods but also for Chinese consumers. It is a symptom of the fact that they have more to spend, that necessities no longer gobble up every spare yuan and that they can afford to add a little colour to their lives. Mao Zedong would not have approved, but his former serfs ignore his frowns and merrily fritter away the banknotes that still depict his face.

As a believer in free markets I have nothing against luxury products (although it is not difficult to live without them), but it is good to remember, that there is another side to the Chinese miracle, which is not quite as glamorous and "colorful" as the one described by comrade Chen Deming and the Economist:

China's disabled exploited as slaves

In an economy where manual labor is in demand, ruthless recruiters often prey on the mentally disabled. One man, held at a brick kiln, is one of countless slaves who endured torture and deplorable living conditions.

Read the entire Los Angeles Times article here.

The Chinese Laogai are the largest gulags of our times, providing slave labour for the fast growing Chinese economy. The admirable Laogai Research Foundation, established by Laogai survivor Harry Wu, has this to say about the China´s huge machinery of repression:

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