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Living Chinese Symbols homepage : Chinese Language and Culture Blog : February 2006

February 1, 2006 05:23 - Young Chinese 'Chuppies' crave American goods

A spending spree among China's youngest citizens raises the demand for U.S. goods in China. Author Bob Froehlich speculates on which companies might benefit most.

Take the ''Chuppies'' into account when rounding out your investment portfolio, advises Bob Froehlich, Wall Street investment strategist, TV personality and internationally acclaimed speaker.

Chuppies, Froehlich explains in his book Investment Megatrends, are the Chinese version of America's Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals) and Buppies (Black Urban Professionals).

''Chuppies, then, are young, urban, Chinese consumers. But here's the interesting part: They are young, they are affluent, and they want American products,'' Froehlich writes.

Among the kinds of American products this emerging Chinese middle class wants to buy, Froehlich says, are high-quality personal-care toiletries, consumer electronics, apparel, fashion accessories, music and videos.

A large subset of the Chuppies fall into a category that, according to Froehlich, the Chinese refer to as ''Yueguangzu'' consumers. The term means that, unlike previous generations of Chinese, they spend every penny they earn every month and save little or nothing.


''These Yueguangzu consumers are confident about China's future. They feel that there is no need to wait to buy something later that they can use and enjoy today by buying it on credit. . . . In Beijing, the personal debt ratio is 122 percent; in Shanghai it is 155 percent. In contrast, the so-called debt-ridden United States consumer has a personal debt ratio of 115 percent,'' Froehlich writes.

That proclivity for buying on credit, Froehlich says, will grow even stronger as the ''Little Emperor Generation,'' most of whose members are now under 15, comes of age. These so-called little emperors are the doted-upon products of China's one-family, one-child, policy.

''While their parents drank tea, they drink Coca-Cola. Their parents wore sandals; they wear Nike running shoes. Their parents ate rice; they eat chicken fingers at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Their parents bought everything with cash; they will probably buy everything with a credit card as more and more Chinese merchants embrace the world of purchases with plastic,'' Froehlich writes.

In addition to considering the mushrooming of consumerism in China, the enlightened investor must also weigh the gargantuan infrastructure building program that is under way there. Much of that, the author notes, is connected to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the World's Fair in Shanghai in 2010. The repercussions from the booms these events generate will go on for decades and enhance the market for commodities.

Based upon those and other observations about demographic trends in China, Froehlich suggests that Toyota, PetroChina Co., China Mobile Yum Brands and Avon Products would stand to benefit greatly from what is going on there. He then invites readers to use his investment megatrends portfolio to identify 20 other companies that should do well there.

Froehlich's observations about China are included in what he labels as ''Global Shift 4: Napoleon Was Right.'' Napoleon said about 200 years ago that China was a ''sleeping lion'' that would shake the world when she awoke.

Investment Megatrends. Bob Froehlich. John Wiley & Sons. 272 pages. $24.95.

February 3, 2006 00:32 - 2006 Chinese astrology: What's in store for the Year of the Dog?

We've now officially barked our way into the Year of the Dog. What are the career and business forecasts for each of the Chinese Zodiac animals this year? The Year of the Dog means good things for Pigs and Snakes in particular, says Master Larry Sang of the American Feng Shui Institute. Master Sang expects 2006 to be an excellent year for those signs, in terms of both their careers and their financial affairs. And with auspicious stars shining above, the Year of the Dog will prove favorable for ... Curious what 2006 has in store for you? Look up you Chinese Zodiac animal sign and read Master Sang's forecast at 2006 Chinese Astrology Forecasts

February 5, 2006 00:29 - "Drinking Chinese Tea is on the Rise in China"

That's the message in this Xinhua Online report, but has drinking Chinese tea ever "gone down"? One thing's for sure, the number of tea drinkers in China has never gone down, even with the mushrooming of coffee chains like Starbucks in major Chinese cities.

Tea has been around in China for at least 2,000 years. According to the "Tea houses learn to infuse ancient with modern" report, the Chinese character cha, meaning tea, was in the nation's first dictionary Eyras, compiled in the early Han Dynasty 2,100 years ago.

I believe what's happened in China with the economy growing at double digits the last 20 plus years, is that both the number of Chinese tea and coffee drinkers in major cities in China have increased. The "pie" has been getting bigger so to speak.

Initially, there was concern when coffee was making inroads into China into the 1990s:

"Tea is older than the name of China, but in the face of modernization and competition from global giants like Starbucks, can it survive?

This used to be a major concern in the 1990s. It was a time when huge swarms appeared for the opening celebration of Beijing's first Starbuck's coffee in 1999, while barely anyone showed up for the opening of the city's first privately-owned Wufu Tea House.

"People laughed at us and said we were flushing money into the toilet," Tan Bo, chief executive of Wufu, told China Daily. "

Wufu's having the last laugh. They have 12 branches in Beijing.

The reasons for Chinese tea's "renaissance" in China are unsurprising and in line with both my lifestyle and observations in Shanghai.

One is the increasing sophistication and spending power of Chinese consumers. In fact, drinking tea has become "fashionable" in China:

"We are targeting the higher-income earners," Tan said. "They are mostly above 30 with monthly income of more than 5,000 yuan (US$616)."

It is in some ways like the fashion industry, different kinds of tea are in fashion in different years. For example, customers can choose green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, white tea, Pu Erh or other fruit blend tea. The tea ceremony, consisting of at least 18 procedures, is also a visual enjoyment for customers."

The other is of course the health benefits of drinking Chinese tea.

"The concept of health sells well among middle-class people who develop an awareness of living a healthy life. Green tea, which has been used as a medicine in China for at least 4,000 years, is known for reducing the risk of cancer, infection and impaired immunity.

Drinking tea is very healthy, "making a tea house the perfect place to go after a greasy dinner," she said. "It helps digestion and there is no worry about putting on extra weight."

February 13, 2006 13:11 -

You don't have to travel to Shanghai, China to see the sights of the annual Chinese Lantern Festival celebrations! Here are some photographs I took last night. The Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai was transformed into a city of lights. This year's lantern festival theme was fairytales. There were silk lanterns of the Frog Prince, Ali Baba, cats and a musical orchestra made up of grasshoppers. This being the Year of the Dog, they were out in full force in all sorts of lantern themes. What a sight! Continue...

February 15, 2006 17:47 - Chinese logo for moon exploration project

Have you seen the new logo for China's lunar exploration project? This was unveiled recently in Beijing, China. After the Beijing Olympics 2008 logo and the Shanghai 2010 Expo logo, one can pretty much guess the inspiration for this one.

Like the two other logos , this new one also features a Chinese character. Which one? You guessed it! The Chinese character for "moon". There are a couple of footprints on it, symbolizing the "moon dream", a dragon head at the upper part which means China's space program is soaring, and a tail made up of white doves for peace. The picture is actually a pictographic representation of the Chinese character for moon, showing a waning moon. A total of 1,026 designs have been received since solicitation of the logo began Aug 15, 2005.

February 20, 2006 11:17 - Furor over a Chinese Bun

A Chinese bun has caused a furor online and off. I'm talking about the internet parody of Director Chen Kaige's (Farewell to My Concubine) new movie "the promise". It's belly-bursting funny but unfortunately there aren't any English subtitles - yet. Even if you don't understand Chinese, you may want to download it (link removed) just to see what the fuss is all about.

The online spoof called "The Killing over a Bun" has gained tremendous notoriety after millions downloaded it last month, that it's spawned a lawsuit from the director to the film's author Hu Ge. The charge? Some sort of copyright infringement that's unlikely to stand up in court. This USD43.2 million Chinese film was considered a bore by most Chinese people, and yes, it does have something to do with a Chinese bun. In the film, the life of a pivotal character became distorted after a girl cheated him of a bun when he was a boy and this led to a series of bloody events as the boy grew up. Hu's 20-min video review reflected what many Chinese people felt about the film: a weak plot. Director Chen shouldn't be so upset. After all, all the controversy has in fact been good for the book office in China. Read the full story of "The Killing over a Bun".

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