How Beijing Plans to Turn the Chinese into Consumers

Following a recent “shopping spree” in Europe by Vice Premier Li Keqiang, Der Spiegel reports on how the Chinese government is planning to boost consumerism in the country:

Shortly before his visit to Germany, Li promised the Spaniards that Beijing would buy €6 billion ($8 billion) worth of the troubled country’s government bonds. On Friday, he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a meet and greet.

The more than $2.6 trillion (€1.94 trillion) in foreign currency reserves held by China are just waiting to be invested. And Li, acting in Europe as the country’s de facto shopper-in-chief, hopes to transform China into a nation of consumers.

China and Hong Kong together are already home to more than 100 billionaires, four times as many as Japan. Attending an annual trade fair in Shanghai, whose high-end luxury goods cater to China’s nouveau riche, is more important to them than going to see traditional military parades. Indeed, the party hopes that ostentatious displays of wealth will boost domestic consumption.

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