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Spending on luxury brands soaring in China

Our country has become a shining beacon of hope for luxury brands as Chinese consumers are driving the growth in many luxury sectors.

As the luster of luxury fades in Japan, luxury brands are expanding their presence and retail locations in China.

McKinsey & Co. estimates that the country’s luxury spending will more than double by 2015. If so, we will surpass Japan to become the world’s largest market for branded goods.

The 2015 estimate will be equivalent to 20 percent of global luxury spending. And Chinese consumers are determining the look, feel and features of some luxury goods.

A new cabin concept called Phoenix, featuring a color-scheme and layout designed to appeal to Asian tastes, is being offered by Airbus for its corporate jet customers in the region. Meanwhile, those taking a trip outside the country are throwing money at luxury goods overseas.

Our tourists bought tax-free luxury items worth 650 million euros (about $935 million) in France last year, according to Global Refund, a company specializing in tax-free shopping.

For those who are not willing to travel overseas to buy luxury goods, the Chinese government has made the country’s tropical island province, Hainan, a duty free zone.

Accumulating material goods is a kind of self-fulfillment for some newly affluent people.

Chinese consumers who buy luxury goods are relatively young. On average, they are 15 years younger than their European counterparts and 25 years younger than their counterparts in the United States.

Affluent yuppies in the country keep up with the Joneses. They are educated, have well-paying city jobs and have disposable incomes. They buy luxury items that signify wealth and invite the envy and admiration of others. And some rich people contest in wealth ― they gauge their fortune by counting the bottles of XO they’re willing to smash.

However, these extravagant people do not necessarily mean the country is rich.

More than 30 million Chinese were receiving poverty relief in 2010, earning less than the official poverty level of 1,274 yuan ($193) a year. The number of people living in poverty will jump to 130 million if the standard is raised to 2,000 yuan ($303), even despite the gap with the World Bank daily standard of $1.25 or $456.25 a year.

A large number of students in the country’s western areas are so poor that they don’t have lunch. Their access to donations is limited as charity is yet to develop in the country.

The philanthropist Andre Carnegie once said, “the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”

Carnegie’s words apply to our rich people, who prefer spending on luxury goods rather than charitable undertakings.

(China Daily, May 10)