THE Chinese are getting back on their bikes. As austerity chic grips the nation’s 150m-strong middle class, many are signing up to an internet campaign to live on just 100 yuan, about £10, a week.
The first luxury to go is the private car, which is being left at home in favour of the sturdy bicycles that once swarmed down every avenue in China.
“The smallest traffic fine is 100 yuan, so I just take my bike,” said Chen Wenjin, a 41-year-old housewife.
Reports of such frugality – long deemed ro be a Confucian virtue – have flooded Chinese newspapers and websites since the economy hit hard times.
Chen has also joined the ranks of those terminating expensive gym memberships and returning to the public parks where, for generations, the Chinese have performed traditional exercises in the early mornings.
Many have given up recently fashionable western-style foods such as milk, bread and branded drinks like Coca-Cola.
To put the 100 yuan campaign in perspective, the incomes of those trying it out range from 3,000 yuan to 8,000 yuan a month. Many are also trying to pay mortgages taken on during China’s property boom, which has deflated.
Ironically, the communist government is horrified at the movement to curb consumer extravagance. “To consume is to love one’s country” declared Liaowang (Outlook), a magazine run by the official Xinhua news agency.
“Patriotism doesn’t just mean shedding one’s blood on the battlefield but in these times when our economy is afflicted by the global crisis, going out and consuming is real patriotism.”
Filed under good sentiments 1 & 2. Interesting, and because it's an "internet campaign"... maybe that makes it something more. Perhaps a trackable meme, if only it had a name.