CHINA> Regional
Silk Market magnet for VIPs
By Wang Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-12 08:07

The Silk Market, a popular shopping place for locals and visitors, has been visited by 11 first ladies and four presidents since the Games began.

"Yesterday, was a red-letter day for me and the Silk Market. We received two important guests - former president George H. W. Bush, and Anne Rogge, wife of Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee," Wang Zili, general manager of Beijing Silk Street Co Ltd, said.

At about 11 am, former president Bush visited the third floor of the market, and was instantly recognized by other shoppers.

Chen Xu, salesman for a shop selling Chinese silk, said he could not believe his eyes when Bush walked in and looked at some bolts of cloth.

"He asked if it was silk. He was very polite," Chen said.

Bush then visited a store selling silk nightgowns, pyjamas and housecoats.

"The gowns are pretty and of good quality. I love the colors," Bush said to the salesman, Zhang Ting.

Bush bought six gowns for 1,800 yuan ($250). One was dark blue with an embroidered dragon on the back.

"It was an amazing experience," Zhang said.

Immediately after Bush left, people rushed into the store to see what he had bought, he said.

Anne Rogge bought a Chinese-style red jacket made of raw silk and a silk blouse for 600 yuan.

"It is always a great pleasure to visit the multiple shops in the market," she wrote in the visitor's book.

Hiane Lahcene, a French marathon athlete, asked Zhang to help him choose some silks items for his family and friends.

"This is my first visit to China. I want to take home things that are traditionally Chinese," he said.

Zhang was only too happy to oblige.

"Generally, we sell about 2,000 yuan a day. The turnover today is double," he said.

Storeowner Li Haiping also welcomed some distinguished guests - Gibson E. Armstrong, state senator of Pennsylvania and his wife.

"We have already bought two silk ties and some toys. They are just wonderful and cheap," Armstrong said.

Li said the number of visitors to her store since the start of the Olympic Games had risen by more than 30 percent.

Other VIPs who visited the market yesterday and items they bought:

Zimbabwe's First Lady Madame Grace Mugabe: Pearls, clothes and silk.

Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, president of Fiji and First Lady Leba Qarase: Pearls, clothes and electrical products.

New Zealand's Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright: Pearls and T-shirts.

Samoa's First Lady Maryanne Togiola Tulafono: Leather goods.

Romania's First Lady Maria Basescu: Handcrafts and jewels.