Pepe Escobar: The Great Wall of shopping

From Asia Times Online: “This boardwalk advertisement greets at least half a million passers-by every day on Nanjing Dong Lu, ’s premier commercial thoroughfare, where almost 40 years ago hordes of vigilant Red Guards waved Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book. It is promoting – what else – a new shopping mall.

And Shanghainese are indeed more than adoring, “after” and “in” this (shopping) world. Still growing at a dizzying 12% a year – to the cries of “unsustainable” by rows of economists in bad suits – conspicuous consumption in this greatest of Asian cities peppered with 40 mega-malls and counting, is the rule. So long live the consumer revolution. In the first Ferrari showroom, opened last summer, a “pedestrian” Maranello costs a mere US$475,000. At Giorgio Armani’s flagship Chinese store, facing the Bund, a Shanghainese-Milanese fusion explodes in silky minimalism. Even the jewelry design is sinified. Communist Party cadres aren’t hip to Armani yet, but anyway the Milan fashion icon has already cornered the luxury market. A man’s jacket costs only 10,000 yuan ($1,220) – more than the annual disposable income of a Shanghainese mid-level executive. ”

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