In China, Middle-Class Affluence, Not Political Influence

By Ford, Peter | The Christian Science Monitor, May 2, 2011 | Go to article overview

In China, Middle-Class Affluence, Not Political Influence


Ford, Peter, The Christian Science Monitor


A new Volkswagen and a Singapore vacation are the badges of affluence for one Chinese couple. But consumer choice, not political choice, is the only freedom China's middle class now enjoy.

The cramped two-room apartment filled with cheap, mismatched furniture where Liu Likang lives with his wife, Xu Yao, would hardly pass for a middle-class dwelling in America. Uncarpeted, lit by a harsh light bulb hanging from the ceiling without a shade, the rented bedroom-cum-sitting room looks more like temporary student lodgings. Outside on the street, however, sits their brand-new Volkswagen sedan, a sleek status symbol that proclaims the young couple's achievements and ambitions as a pair of Internet start-up employees who are going places.

These are the sort of people whose historical equivalents in 18th- and 19th-century Europe developed political ambitions to match their economic status and fueled the rise of democracy.

Mr. Liu laughs at the suggestion that the same thing might happen in 21st-century China. "Undeniably, the people in power hope the country will develop and people will have a better life," he says. "But the bottom line is that the people should not challenge their power. We have given up hope of changing the government."

Still, Liu and Ms. Xu are thankful for the enormous differences between their lives and those of their parents: Liu's dad was a truck driver, Xu's was an electrician, and both were assigned their jobs by the government. "My parents earned just enough to feed the family, and they thought only about how to support us, not about making a better life or improving themselves," says Xu. "Our generation has the opportunity to do that."

She is now a product development manager at Alibaba.com, China's biggest online trading site, and her husband is a software engineer at another Chinese Internet success story, Kaixin001, a Facebook- style site. Unlike their parents, says Liu, "I can either stay with this company or find a job at another one. I am totally free to do that."

Those jobs earn the couple about $30,000 a year between them - not much by Western standards, but twice the average salary in Beijing and five times the national average in China. Recently they went on their first holiday abroad - a trip to Singapore organized by Liu's employer - but most of their spare money goes to car payments, and they do not indulge in luxuries like fancy clothes, preferring jeans and T-shirts, which allows them to save a little each month. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In China, Middle-Class Affluence, Not Political Influence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.