Sunday, 29 December 2013

Creeping Western Influences in China

Is anyone listening to Xi's rhetoric against "dangerous western influences"?
Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to sustain his campaign to crack down on corruption and extravagance which has resulted in plunges in luxury sales in Hong Kong. Fashion houses are already adapting to the situation by making their products more discreet without the brand name flagrantly displayed on clothing, shoes, handbags and such.

However Xi is also intent on clamping down on "dangerous western influences", such as universal values, freedom of speech and civil rights.

Nevertheless, friends from Shanghai who are here for the holidays report that mainlanders, particularly younger people are keen to embrace western holidays and traditions without understanding their meaning.

For example for American Thanksgiving, many of the hotel restaurants serve turkey dinners and locals sample the big bird despite their preconceptions that it tastes very dry. They wish each other a "Happy Thanksgiving" on Sina Weibo even though they don't know about the history of the tradition nor the dishes that are usually served on that day.

The same has happened with Christmas, where it is a commercial event for them, not a celebration of the birth of Jesus, as most mainlanders are not religious. Young people buy each other gifts and use the western holiday period as an excuse to get together with friends despite December 25 not being a public holiday in China.

In addition the country has created its own home-grown shopping "holidays". The first was November 11 to celebrate "singles day" because the date (11/11) features single ones and Alibaba encouraged consumers to shop that day and it has now become the biggest shopping day of the year in China.

And now December 12 (12/12) has followed the same as a shopping prelude to the winter season...

Meanwhile we think the Taiwanese have got the right Christmas spirit by having a flash mob descend on China World Trade Center in Beijing and singing a medley of Chinese songs that everyone remembered from their childhood and joined in.

Here's the YouTube video:

Wonder what Xi thinks of residents willingly embracing Western soft power...

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