Beijing Elite Concentrated Among “Big Four”: Changan Club, Capital Club, Americas Club, China Club
They may have originally made their way into China via Shanghai, but private clubs are now finding fertile soil in the nation’s capital, Beijing. Taking over this year from Shanghai as the preferred city of residence for Chinese millionaires, according to MSN China, Beijing now boasts “more than 4,000” private clubs catering to the city’s well-heeled entrepreneurs, political elite, and celebrities. Amid the vast array of private clubs, which focus on everything from cars to art, MSN calls particular attention to Beijing’s so-called “Big Four” — the Chang’an Club, Capital Club, Americas Club and China Club — which charge membership fees of up to 2 million yuan (US$309,000), more than 30 times the city’s per capita GDP.
From MSN (translation by Jing Daily team):
Mr. Xiao, who works in the media industry, was invited by a friend to check out a private club by Yuanmingyuan, a place whose privacy and lavish environment left a deep impression on him.
“We made our way to an area by the west end of Yuanmingyuan,” Xiao said, “and came across a very simple, ’80s style door. The only thing that stood out about the door was that there was a guard standing by wearing a green uniform, who asked us for our driver’s licenses and IDs before letting us through.”
Xiao said the club restaurant only offered a prix fixe menu that cost 2,000 yuan (US$309) excluding drinks, and added a 20 percent service charge. “From my rough estimation, if eight people had dinner together there, it’d probably cost them at least 30,000 yuan (US$4,642). Of course, this is a low estimate. They give you the option of a 3,000 or a 5,000 yuan menu.”
Before he left, the manager told Mr. Xiao that membership is only available to those referred by existing members, and that the club is not open to the public. The membership fee, according to Xiao, of this particular club is 2 million yuan ($309,000), and members are required to spend at least 300,000 yuan (US$46,400) at the club every year.
As Mr. Xiao added, most of Beijing’s more than 4,000 private clubs are not open to non-members, and these clubs use high membership fees and strict assessment measures to ensure the “purity” of their members.
The article goes on to mention other private clubs that exemplify these “strict assessment measures”:
Another private club near Fragrant Hills Park (香山) requires members to prove more than 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) worth of assets and charges a membership fee of 500,000 yuan ($77,000). At one club, located in Beijing’s East Fourth Ring Road (东四环), a businessman, who carried with him the 300,000 yuan membership fee, was rejected because one requirement for membership was to be “a celebrity”.
Wrapping up, the article highlights Beijing’s mysterious “Big Four” private clubs, the playgrounds for the city’s elite:
Chang’an Club: Politician’s Paradise
In addition to its lavish environment, the biggest selling point of the Chang’an Club is its celebrity clientele. Government officials account for a significant proportion of the club’s membership, and business members tend to come from traditional industries, including many well-known state-owned enterprises and foreign executives. VIP members include Li Ka-shing and Yang Yuanqing.
Capital Club: China’s First “Rich Man’s Club”
The Capital Club, which calls itself “China’s first ‘Rich Man’s Club'”, boasts a private elevator and 360-degree views of downtown Beijing. When the club started, most members were foreign expatriates, but now locals account for about half of the membership.
China Club: The Choice For Senior Bank Execs
Imbued with local Chinese flavor, the China Club hosts numerous foreign heads of state, and those holding foreign nationality account for 70-80 percent of the club membership. Members include world-renowned politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, royals and senior bank executives.
Americas Club: The New Kid On The Block
The newest of the “Big Four” clubs, the Americas Club claims that the vast majority of its members were educated overseas. Most members work in fields like IT, banking, investment and other emerging industries. Members are relatively young, and the club currently has 300-400 members. VIPs include Sohu CEO Charles Zhang.