China: The Orient Excess

2012, Economics  -   11 Comments
Ratings: 7.84/10 from 49 users.

What impact the super rich are having in China and what is their prominence and ostentation saying about the Communist Party's complicated attitude to capitalism? Young entrepreneurs are the reflection of Chinese society today. Only two things count: money and success. You can never have enough money. Money helps them fulfill their dreams. China's new rich spend their money well. For evidence you need look no further than the luxury fairs, constantly running across the country.

By 2015 China will replace Japan as the largest single market for luxury goods. By then, Chinese spending on luxury items is estimated to reach more than €20 billion per year. The potential luxury goods market in China is huge. There are 1.3 billion people in China. If only 1 out of 10 of them was rich the business with luxury goods would have 130 million potential customers. The trends are convincing, the numbers of Chinese millionaires is increasing rapidly, as other ranks of the super rich. Only the United States is home to more billionaires than China.

Wang Dafu manages the 500th richest firm in China. His fortune is estimated to be around €0.5 billion. Wang was born into a poor family. It's a story that's fast becoming the Chinese dream, taking him less than 15 years to become the undisputed property czar on the resort island of Hainan. Certainly not the kind of project he expected to achieve as a young boy.

When he was little, if he had chicken legs he didn't want to eat them all at once. They were so valuable; he would wrap them again and again. When he started working, he could sometimes afford a beer and a bowl of noodles. That was a luxury for his family and they were happy. At the beginning he used to earn $26 a month. He use to work as a day laborer in factories. Then he became an agent. He sold oil, fertilizer and clothing. He really has done many things. Modesty is not Wang Dafu's thing. He is proud of his success and his personal wealth. Right now that includes hotels, supermarkets, marinas and entire neighborhoods in Hainan.

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11 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Dominic Rose

    Definition of success #1: build a golden ox and sell it
    Definition of success #2: buy a golden ox and display it
    They know how to work to earn things but they just don't get what life can be about outside of shiny appearances. I'm such a lazy guy but I think I'm enjoying my life more than them, just not blindlessly directing efforts towars useless stuff

  2. Kip Keino

    For many people, wealth is God. For me, nature is tops. Worshiping money is a hollow soul-less endeavor. None of the people interviewed are truly content down deep. They're all play-acting. I didn't see one of them smile a sincere smile.

  3. Xiaoshu Qiu

    This is so true. I was born and raised in Hainan island. My father and a few of his friends are also entrepreneurs in Hainan who have very humble beginnings. I can totally testify that's exactly what they've gone through during the years. Thank you for putting this documentary together. You've taught me stories I didn't even know.

  4. ChipsAhoyMcCoy

    -Buy some foreign powdered milk.
    -Poison national powdered milk.
    -Rake in the profits.

    DO NOT:
    -Care about the competition's well being.
    -The inflated price due to being a greedy middleman.

  5. kafka11

    'this year i put away 25 million euros, and i hope there is a good deal MORE to come'. Are these people for real?

  6. bringmeredwine

    Kept wondering where the successful women were, until Miss Zhou's profile near the end of the program.
    Mostly saw business men with gorgeous young women draped all over the background like ornaments.
    The older men were self-made and came from poverty. They certainly know how to work hard.
    Ever notice, the super rich appear to live the same lifestyles no matter what country they live in?
    All the money in the world won't save them when the air and water are no longer sustainable.

  7. Jacek Walker

    Most of those "succcessful people" are like immatured children enjoying their shiny toys.
    It is understandable to see a child enchanted by a new toy, but those "adult" people in their 30's 40's or more getting mad about sports cars, yachts...?
    One can only be shocked how infantile and greedy those people are...the only explanation is that they were denied toys in their childhood and now they try to make up for it.

  8. RedMagnolia

    All of the wealth comes at a heavy expense to the earth herself and the majority of people whose lives become increasing a daily struggle. In place of spending money on yachts and sports cars why don't they invest in tech that would improve the quality of the air, the water and the well being of the planet. Oh but that might mean they would have to give up their hobbies. Ask a person struggling to put food on the table for their children, shelter and educate those children or to find clean drinking water in much of the world about hobbies and you will get a blank look.

  9. rainmaker

    Show a documentary about Bill Gates or Arnold Schwarzenegger to someone in Africa and they'll think this is a typical way to success in the United States.

    The authors of this film took one single successful case and show it as if every Chinese can achieve this. Or 10% of all Chinese, as they predict. But if they really studied and understood what is going on in China, they wouldn't be so optimistic and blind.

    I do quite some business with China, and the prices of Chinese products have been constantly rising, making them less price competitive than years ago. Guess what - the quality stays on the same level. At the same time, the majority of Chinese keep surviving with ridiculously low wages. Yes, there is a number of rich Chinese and the number is increasing, BUT the increase is slowing down as it becomes much more difficult to become rich there, and the gap between super rich and normal Chinese is increasing fast. Don't forget, the majority of the population still lives in rural areas and is involved in agriculture! A number of Chinese living in big cities is still limited, and most of them fight for survival, often living in horrible conditions and sharing room/apartment with co-workers or friends. Most of them can't afford to build a family and have kids.

    As for luxury goods in China, not even rich Chinese are not as picky as the Japanese, and often don't mind buying a much cheaper fake product, as long as it looks close to the original and looks expensive.

    Even if the number of rich Chinese does reach 10% of the population, the authors of the film predict, this would drive prices of everything made in China extremely high, the production and sales would drop, the number of rich Chinese would be decreased to something like what we have today.

    If you are smart, you'd make as much money as you can in China NOW (without investing in the future of this country) and invest in, say, India instead. At least Indian population won't soon be decreasing rapidly like in China. Or even better - build a smart and well-diversified portfolio. Don't keep your savings in a bank - it's lame.

  10. systems1000

    capitalism in China is working Only for the few.Under this new fad the Chinese worker has gone from the frying pan into the fire,low pay,no rights,long hours,no union,shall i go on?A third world walmart,to say the least.

  11. Carl Hendershot

    Golden Bull.... Guess the calf was too basic for those who worship false idols...