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Consumption of luxury goods
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-09-13 13:51

That China will become the world's largest luxury market is not something that we should feel proud of, says an article in Qilu Evening Post. The following is an excerpt:

The Ministry of Commerce estimates that China will become the world's largest luxury market by 2014, accounting for 23 percent of the total. Current data shows that China now ranks third in the world behind the United States and Japan.

According to the World Luxury Association, spending on luxury items in China was $8 billion last year, rising at an annual rate of 20 percent.

Things only shown in movies - villas in Florida, limousines, top brand clothing, and private planes - have started to appear around us. As a online posting said, "as we just start to solve the dilemma of three generations living under one roof, you now live in fancy villas; as we just start to wear gold necklaces, you are wearing diamonds; as we just start to drink beer, you are switching to 100-year-old Scotch whiskey". This vivid description showcases the lifestyle enjoyed by the newly rich Chinese.

China's economic boom has included a boost in luxury goods. Of course, luxury goods are not sinful things, individuals can buy them without feeling guilty. But the problem is while it has taken more than a century for the luxury market in Western countries to develop maturely it has only taken 30 years for China to be ranked third.

More importantly, luxury consumption in the West is propped up by a mature charity culture. While Bill Gates owns luxurious villas, he is also dedicated to charitable causes. With the fast growth of China's luxury market, wealthy Chinese tend to lack interest in charity work. It is not healthy for China to embrace luxury goods too quickly before more of the wealth can be spread around.

It is worth noting that not just wealthy Chinese like buying luxury goods, even more and more wage earners are also buying them. Some of them even tighten their belts to buy such goods.

It is squandering the wealth of a developing country like China to consume luxury goods too early. It indicates a loss of our traditional culture and ethics. The title of "world's largest luxury market" is not an acclaim but an alarm for us.

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