Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
Recently, Rui Chenggang, a regular publicity stunt instigator and anchor of the prime-time television CCTV (China Central Television) program BizChina, posted a series of messages on his Sina Weibo haranguing major global luxury brands and China’s current level of luxury consumption. In a blistering attack on Hermès’ popularity in China, Rui wrote, “The Hermès Birkin handbag (for women) and leather ‘H’ belt (for men) are strong weapons for China’s nouveau riche and socialites to show off their wealth. However, Hermès handbags are just used by a few middle-age women in Europe and the U.S.” Rui’s critiques kicked off an instant flame-war among Rui’s 1.8 million Weibo followers, one that quickly spread throughout the Chinese blogosphere.
Soon after his attack on the perceptions of Hermès in China versus Western countries, Rui added fuel to the fire with a questionnaire entitled “The Ten Most Vulgar Luxury Brands”.
Over the last few years, Chinese investors have been on the hunt for vineyards around the world, looking to secure a steady supply of high-quality raw materials while boosting the legitimacy of their wine-making businesses among China’s burgeoning oenophiles. While industry giants like COFCO have their sights set on vineyards in Chile, Australia and the United States, perhaps nowhere is the Chinese presence more pronounced at the moment than Bordeaux, France. With China surpassing Germany and the UK to become the Bordeaux’s largest export market, and Bordeaux mainstays like Château Lafite, Château Latour and (increasingly) Château d’Yquem becoming the bottles of choice for Chinese collectors, gift givers and show-offs alike, it’s no surprise Chinese buyers have swept into the region.
And sweep in they have: As Bordeaux Undiscovered pointed out this spring, six established Bordeaux chateaux have been bought out by Chinese investors in recent years, including Chateaux de Viaud, Latour Laguens, Laffitte Chenu and Richelieu.
As Jing Daily wrote last year, a growing number of China’s ultra-wealthy, having already purchased their luxury cars and villas, are turning to the skies for their next major purchase — a private jet. Although the private aviation industry in China is plagued by red tape, regulatory ambiguity, and an ever-growing number of “black flights“, jet makers are optimistic about the market, regularly referring to China as something of a “blank slate”. As of this April, upwards of 90 private jets had been officially registered in China, although the actual number is likely much higher, compared with almost none just a decade ago.
Compare this to the more than 10,000 private jets currently in operation in the United States, and it’s not surprising that manufacturers are bullish on China.
“China now just has two types of rich people: those who play golf and those who don’t,” one worker at Wuhan’s Tianwaitian Golf Club recently told Xinhua. Increasingly, it appears that Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province, boasts an increasing proportion of the former over the latter. Wuhan’s well-heeled are in the midst of golf fever, driven by a perception that golfing is the requisite hobby for the city’s movers and shakers. Devoid of golf until 1992, when a small practice green appeared in the city’s Liberation Park, Wuhan now boasts around 17 small golf courses and driving ranges, along with five full-size, 18-hole courses: Wuhan International Golf Club, Tianwaitian, Eastern, Red Lotus Lake and Liangzihu, the first of which, Jinyihu, opened as recently as the late 1990s.
The construction of new courses, like the adoption of the sport by the city’s upwardly mobile class, has been furious.
Last month, Jing Daily covered the “jade fever” sweeping through the northeastern Chinese city of Qingdao, which has fueled concerns of a bubble forming in the country’s jade and jadeite markets. As we’ve previously noted, the price of high-quality jade from China’s western Xinjiang Province has risen ten-fold over the past decade, and now can fetch up to US$3,000 per ounce. In Qingdao, due to contributing factors such as increased demand, stricter export controls by manufacturers in Myanmar (Burma) of high-quality jadeite, and market speculation — one Qingdao retailer said earlier this year that she estimates 70-80 percent of her customers to be speculators — prices for jade and jadeite have risen, in some cases, over 400 percent in the last three years alone.