Sez the NYT:
China is now the world’s fastest-growing luxury market, with an estimated $7.6 billion in sales last year, according to Bain & Company, a global consulting firm. And industry experts say gifts to government officials make up close to 50 percent of the country’s luxury sales.
Oh yeah, they mean bribery.
Need an example? Try Nanjing-based real estate official Zhou Jiugeng. He probably thought it wasn’t unusual for a public servant to drive a Cadillac, wear a $15,000 Vacheron Constantin watch, or smoke “luxury” $20-a-pack cigarettes. A pack of unwashed Chinese internerds hunted down evidence of his implausibly expensive tastes, and he ended up being hauled before a disciplinary committee and fired.
On a side note, this book linked from the NYT article paints a genuinely depressing picture of the culture on this side of the globe:
The Cult of the Luxury Brand is the first book to explore how and why an amazing “luxeplosion” is rocking Asia, sweeping up not just the glitzy upper crust, but secretaries toting their Burberry bags, junior executives sporting Rolex watches, and university students in Ferragamo shoes.
Ed note: any university student who wears Ferragamos needs to take a long hard look at their priorities.
[The book] demonstrates how the continent’s massive economic and social transformation is dismantling centuries-old ways of defining your place in society, and how your spot on today’s social totem pole is marked by your Chanel suit and your Cartier watch.
In Asia, “who you are” is now secondary to “who you wear”. Draw your own conclusions, readers.
(JRE has boggled at the scale of Chinese corruption previously.)