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3 Sep
2012

In this weekend's South China Post, and article profiled how many Chinese parents are spending a small fortune to give their children a taste of the world.

The article described how "A growing number of affluent parents are sending their children overseas to improve their English and develop critical thinking skills. "Those who seek wisdom should read 10,000 books and travel 10,000 miles, the Chinese saying goes, and while one could easily spend a lifetime accomplishing the first task, many affluent mainland parents are increasingly choosing to put their children on the path to scholarship by sending them overseas for a season."

Agencies who organize overseas summer camps for primary and secondary school pupils report an explosion in the number of parents willing to shell out up to 40,000 Yuan (HK$49,000) - twice the annual per capita disposal income of the average urban mainlander - to introduce their children to the world beyond China.” Many of the students are said to become quite enamored with their visits to Europe and the U.S., determined for a longer stay by attending university overseas.

This situation appears to be another case of status gaining by parents and their children as they strive for a sampling of life outside of China. But what is gained by this exposure? What academic or social experiences are most desired through this international adventure?

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19 Aug
2012

"Teach your children well, Their father's hell did slowly go by, And feed them on your dreams The one they picked, the one you'll know by." Lyrics by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970

In last week's Shanghai Daily.com, writers delved into the topic of China's pampered children; the little emperors and empresses, and the current trends in nurturing methods used by parents.

"Raise a daughter in an easy, comfortable environment, but raise a boy in a rigorous way" (fu yang nu, qiong yang nan), the saying goes, passed down over thousands of years.

But with China's quantum leap into modernization and urban prosperity for many, the old wisdom has been drowned out by the sound of a middle class getting rich and wanting to pass on to the children the ease and advantages they never had.

Both urban boys and girls have been pampered, many to excess, and as a result, there's much hand-wringing about 'materialistic girls' and especially boys who are weak and unmanly ��" parents have gone too far, some say, in giving them everything they want."

A whole 'boys' movement' has arisen to help boys get back in touch with their tougher, masculine side. As for girls, the old adage about a protected and comfortable environment appears to hold true and some parents even go overboard, introducing their girls to the better things in life in hopes that they won't settle for less when they marry."

What do you think about how parents guide and prepare their children for their future status in society? How were you driven by your family and what qualities were you encouraged to develop for success in life?

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16 Jul
2012

A Chinese tour guide first let me in on the cultural legend. Then I saw it in print, quoting a Japanese press article titled, "The three most-wanted, a mirror of the economic situation." An unnamed cultural anthropologist had defined and recorded the materialistic desires of the Chinese consumer, reflecting the nation's increasing affluence and sophisticated wants. In the 1950s, it was a watch, bike and sewing machine; TV set, refrigerator and washing machine in the 1980s; phone, computer and air conditioning in the 1990s. I am told that the purchasing of such modern conveniences even pre-dated electricity in some regions.

Today as the selection of goods are so widely available throughout most of China, it is understandable that there is no longer a single, uniform wish-list. Housing, an automobile, and children's education would find a place on some tallies. Currently, Smartphone ownership in China totals 33% of the total population, and growing as the country has demonstrated a passion for going mobile, so the latest mobile phone technology would be high on other lists. And in Tianjin province, 85% of primary school students who received gifts for International Children's Day, asked their parents to give them brand-name sports shoes.

As our purpose is to follow and analyze materialistic desires as methods to gain or improve status through consumer behavior, we ask you, "If a nationwide survey was done today, what would be the three most sought after items by Chinese people?"

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