Week In Review: May 24-28

    In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of May 24-28.
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Jing Daily’s Top Posts For The Week#

    In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of May 24-28:

    New Chinese Art Collectors “Take The Market By Storm”

    As New Chinese Collectors branch out from their home turf and scour the globe looking for everything from Tang Dynasty antiquities to 1990s canvases by historical Chinese contemporary artists, we’ve watched prices of contemporary pieces head upward once again after dipping in the wake of the global economic crisis, read stories of Western collectors essentially giving up bidding against Chinese bidders at jade and ceramics auctions, and seen auctions of wine, watches and jewelry sell out in Hong Kong. After appearing on the scene in earnest only as recently as the last 20 years, Chinese collectors have arrived, and they’ve brought wads of cash along for the ride.

    Powered equally by a desire for asset diversification and patriotism, most new Chinese collectors have focused solely on Chinese art and antiquities. This has been particularly true for “super-collectors” like Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei (previously on Jing Daily) and Chen Yu, who have virtually dominated the market for “Red Classics” of the 1950s-1970s and have increasingly collected works by top contemporary artists like Fang Lijun and Liu Xiaodong.

    Will Baijiu Ever Become Fashionable?#

    While many outside of China are unfamiliar with baijiu (literally “white spirit”), the tear-inducing, punch-packing traditional liquor of China (something of an ancestor to Japanese sake or Korean soju), it has long been the spirit of choice for many Chinese drinkers. Still ubiquitous on banquet tables throughout the country, baijiu’s hegemony in the Chinese alcohol market has only been seriously challenged in the last few decades, after China’s “reform and opening” process brought foreign spirits flowing back into the country after an essentially 30-year-long hiatus. However, in that short amount of time baijiu — much like the bicycles and Mao suits that characterized an earlier generation — has been sidelined by young urban Chinese in favor of BMWs and Prada, wine and whiskey.

    Absent any real “retro” panache or the flashy advertisements of a brand like Absolut or Chivas Regal — and still carrying “old fashioned” or rural associations — baijiu risks losing out among a whole generation of more internationally minded, upwardly mobile drinkers. Though it still far and away dominates the Chinese spirits market by sales volume, this could change within a few decades if baijiu makers can’t figure out a way to tap the demand of younger revelers who care more about style and flavor than history and tradition. Despite the efforts of more premium baijiu brands like Wenjun — 55% owned by LVMH Moet Hennissey — or Quanxing (partly owned by Diageo) to increase the “hip” factor of baijiu in Shanghai hotspots, grape wine, whiskey and beer continue to reign supreme among Chinese 20-35 year olds.

    South Beauty’s Plan For Global (Culinary) Domination

    If Chinese restaurateur Zhang Lan (South Beauty, LAN Club, SUBU) has her way, within a few years people around the world will reassess their conceptions of Chinese cuisine, associating it more with luxurious surroundings and a hefty bill than sweet, sticky globs of Kung Pao chicken. While it’s easy to dismiss Zhang’s dream of undoing more than 100 years of conditioning in such a short amount of time, it pays to bear in mind that she’s managed to convince China’s urban elite that their country’s cuisine can occupy the same opulent surroundings as French or Japanese cuisine — and that it’s worth 5-10x the price of a typical “high-end” Chinese restaurant.

    Since its establishment in 2000, Zhang’s restaurant chain, South Beauty — which operates under the motto, “Global Quality, Chinese Style” and specializes in Sichuan cuisine — has grown from one location in Beijing’s China World Trade Center to more than 40 locations throughout the country, powered mostly by Zhang Lan’s intelligent yet aggressive style of branding.

    Winners Of The Chinese Contemporary Art Awards 2010 Announced

    With the welcoming mat being rolled out for Chinese contemporary art this week in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong International Art Fair (ART HK10) and the Christie’s Spring Auctions, back in the mainland an international jury today announced the winners of this year’s Chinese Contemporary Art Awards (CCAA). Established in 1997 by Uli Sigg, the former Swiss diplomat and tireless collector and promoter of Chinese contemporary art, CCAA (an independent non-profit) each year awards artists and art critics who show outstanding achievement in artistic creation, as well as its analysis and critique. Since its inception, CCAA has been instrumental in launching the careers — or boosting the visibility — of many of China’s top contemporary artists and critics.

    This year’s winners of the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, as chosen by a jury of internationally reknowned experts on contemporary art, are Duan Jianyu (段建宇) for Best Artist; Sun Xun (孙逊) for Best Young Artist; and Zhang Peili (张培力) for Lifetime Contribution.

    Wang Jian: “I Hope Chinese Mentality Toward Luxury Will Gradually Mature”

    Although major luxury brands are clearly bullish about the Chinese luxury market, pumping millions into the construction of new flagship stores and retail locations in second- and third-tier cities, some Chinese academics and commentators are concerned about the societal effects of the “luxury mentality” in China. Among other concerns, many worry that conspicuous consumption could only exacerbate underlying social tensions that are particularly pronounced in the same second- and third-tier cities that luxury brands are now eyeing for expansion.

    This week, Wang Jian, head of the Middle East, Europe and Asia Institute at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and a social commentator whose “Wang Jian’s Viewpoint” column appears on “China Voice” and a number of Chinese-language sites, writes that we shouldn’t read too much into China surpassing the U.S. to become the world’s second-largest luxury market, as luxury consumption in itself is no measure of a country’s true development.

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