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No Man’s City – A Chinese Blogger’s Powerful Essay About The “Fake Lives” of Beijing Residents

An essay titled “Beijing Has 20 Million People Pretending to Live There” by Chinese blogger Zhang Wumao has gone viral on Chinese social media. The essay describes how Beijing has changed into a city that is overrun by ‘outsiders’ and no longer belongs to the ‘old Beijingers.’ The article has now been censored. Chinese state media say the essay impedes good relations between Beijing’s locals and immigrants.

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An essay titled “Beijing Has 20 Million People Pretending to Live Here” by Chinese blogger Zhang Wumao (张五毛) has gone viral on Chinese social media, sparking wide debate on life in China’s capital. The essay describes how Beijing has changed into a city that is overrun by ‘outsiders’ and no longer belongs to the ‘old Beijingers.’ Chinese state media say the essay, which is now censored, polarizes the relations between Beijing’s locals and immigrants.

An online essay titled “Beijing Has 20 Million People Pretending to Live Here” (or: “There are 20 Million People in Beijing Pretending to Have a Life” “北京,有2000万人假装在生活”, full English translation here) by Chinese writer and blogger Zhang Wumao (张五毛) became a viral hit on WeChat and Weibo after it was published on the author’s WeChat account on July 23.

The essay is a witty yet powerful critique of Beijing and its residents. Over the last decade, and especially over the past few years, Beijing has undergone enormous changes. The city is expanding, high-rise buildings are mushrooming, while old hutong areas are bricked up and familiar neighborhoods demolished for the sake of the city’s metamorphosis in an ‘international metropolis.’

According to Mr. Zhang, the city’s rapid transformation has turned it into a place with no identity; a place that nobody can call home. The essay argues that Beijing has been overrun by migrant workers or waidiren (外地人, ‘people from outside the city’), and that these ‘outsiders’ have turned China’s capital into a place with staggering house prices and heavy traffic that lacks soul. The city no longer really belongs to native Beijingers, Zhang writes, as they cannot even recognize their old neighborhoods anymore.

The essay describes how Beijing has become so big, so full, and so expensive, that life has virtually become unsustainable. The result of Beijing’s transformation, according to the post, is that its residents, both locals and immigrants, just “pretend to live there”, leading “fake lives.”

 

ZHANG GUOCHEN

“It was destined to go viral. It ridicules Beijing + it talks about migrant workers + real estate market + and state of life.”

 

Zhang Wumao, whose real name is Zhang Guochen (张国臣), is an author born in the early 1980s. He is from Luonan, Shaanxi, and came to Beijing at the age of 25 in 2006. A year later he started blogging. He previously published the novels Spring is Burning (春天在燃烧) and Princess’s Tomb (公主坟).

Zhang’s online essay about Beijing spread like wildfire on WeChat and Weibo on Sunday. It was viewed over 5 million times within an evening and soon became a trending article on WeChat. It triggered wide debate across Chinese social media on the lives of people in Beijing.

WeChat’s “Today” overview showing dozens of mentions of Zhang’s essay earlier this week. (via zhihu.com)

On Monday and Tuesday, the essay was also republished by various Chinese media such as Tencent News, iFeng, and Sohu.com.

But on July 25, the full text was removed from all social media accounts and Chinese online newspapers. Its hashtag on Weibo (#北京有2000万人假装在生活#) is now no longer accessible.

On Tuesday, any link for the online essay came up with a ‘404 page’ saying: “Cannot open – you can no longer view this page!”

The article also disappeared from Zhang’s WeChat account.

Zhang’s Wechat account shows that the article from July 23 has now been deleted.

On Quora-like discussion platform Zhihu.com, one person said the essay was destined to become a hype: “This is a typical Wechat viral article. It ridicules Beijing + it talks about migrant workers + real estate market + and state of life. As it contains all of these elements in 1 article, the author just intended for this to become a hit.”

 

A SENSITIVE ESSAY

“What Beijingers increasingly feel is the suffocation of the smog and the high cost of housing. They cannot move, they cannot breathe.”

 

Zhang’s essay is divided into five paragraphs. In the first part, he explains that Beijingers often seem inhospitable; the city is so huge and congested, that people simply cannot find the time to see their friends in other parts of the city.

“Beijing is really too big; so big that it is simply not like a city at all. It is equivalent to 2.5 times Shanghai, 8.4 times Shenzhen, 15 times Hong Kong, 21 times New York, or 27 times Seoul. When friends from outside come to Beijing, they think they’re close to me. But actually, we’re hardly in the same city at all.”

“For 10 years, Beijing has been controlling housing, controlling traffic, and controlling the population. But this pancake is only getting wider and bigger, so much that when a school friend from Xi’an calls me to say he’s in Beijing and I ask him where he is, he tells me: “I am at the 13th Ring.” Beijing is a tumor, and no one can control how fast it is growing; Beijing is a river, and no one can draw its borders. Beijing is a believer, and only Xiong’an can bring salvation.”

The second part, which is titled ‘Beijing actually belongs to outsiders’ (北京其实是外地人的北京), claims that Beijing is one of the most beloved cities in China because of its rich cultural heritage and long history, but that this is something that is only of value to people from outside the city.

“In the 11 years since I’ve come to Beijing, I have been to the Great Wall 11 times, 12 times the Imperial Palace, 9 times to the Summer Palace, and 20 times to the Bird’s Nest. I feel emotionless about this city’s great architecture and long history. (..) Going into the Forbidden City, I only see one empty house after the other – it’s less interesting than the lively pigsties we have in my native village.”

“Upon mentioning Beijing, many people first think of the Palace Museum, Houhai, 798; they think of history, culture, and high-rise buildings. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s good! Does it make us proud? It does! But you can’t make food out of these things. What Beijingers increasingly feel is the suffocation of the smog and the high cost of housing. They cannot move, they cannot breathe.”

He then goes on to mock the old residents of Beijing, who still have the upper hand in the real estate market despite the flood of new immigrants, all owning “five-room houses.” The old Beijingers lead very different lives from the migrant workers, who are caught in a negative spiral of hard work, no social life, and finding a place to settle down.

“In Beijing, the migrant workers, who have no real estate from previous generations, are destined to be trapped in their house for life. They strive for over a decade to buy an apartment the size of a bird cage; then spend another decade struggling to get a house that has two rooms rather than one. If that goes well, congratulations, you can now consider an apartment in the school district.”

“With a house in the school district, children can attend Tsinghua or Peking University. But Tsinghua graduates will still not be able to afford a room in that district. They will then either need to stay crammed together in the old shabby family apartment, or start from scratch, struggling for another apartment.”

 

“For Beijing’s new immigrants, the city is a distant place where they can’t stay; for Beijing’s old residents, the city is an old home they can’t return to.”

 

In the final part of the essay, however, Zhang shows his sympathy for the old residents of Beijing:

“I once took a taxi to Lin Cui Road. Because I was afraid the driver wouldn’t know the way, I opened the navigation on my phone to help him find the way. He said he did not need the navigation because he knew that place. There was a flour mill there 30 years ago, he said, it was demolished 10 years ago, and they built low-income housing there. I asked him how he knew this so well. “That used to be my home,” he said, the sorrow showing in his face.”

“I could hear nostalgia and resentment from the driver’s words. For Beijing’s new immigrants, the city is a distant place where they can’t stay; for Beijing’s old residents, the city is an old home they can’t return to.”

“We, as outsiders, ridicule Beijing on the one hand, while on the other hand, we cherish our hometowns. But in fact, we can still go back to our hometown. It is still there. (..) But for the old Beijingers, there really is no way to go back to their hometown. It has changed with unprecedented speed. We can still find our grandfather’s old house. The majority of Beijingers can only find the location of their old homes through the coordinates on a map.”

He concludes his article by highlighting the recent demolishment of old Beijing shops and restaurants, saying that the city is being renovated but is becoming less livable.

“Those who chase their dreams of success are now escaping [Beijing]. They’re off to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the West Coast of the United States. Those who’ve lost hope of chasing their dreams are also escaping. They return to Hebei, the Northeast, their hometowns.”

He ends by writing: “There are over 20 million people left in this city, pretending to live. In reality, there simply is no life in this city. Here, there are only some people’s dreams and everybody’s jobs.”

 

CHINESE MEDIA RESPONSES

“The contrast between old Beijingers and new immigrants is exaggerated, and it polarizes the relationship between locals and outsiders.”

 

Despite censorship of the actual text, Zhang’s essay is widely discussed by Chinese official media.

State media outlet People’s Daily (@人民日报) writes on Weibo:

“The essay ‘Beijing Has 20 Million People Pretending to Live There’ is a viral hit but is not approved of. There really is such a thing as the “Big City Disease”, and we do not need to pretend as if people in first-tier cities are not struggling and facing hardships. But in Beijing, both locals and outsiders are alive and kicking; they are all the more real because of their dreams. Making a living is hard, but it is the days of watching flowers blossom and wilt that are full of life. The city and its people don’t have it easy, but they have to show some tolerance for each other and then they can both succeed.”

Xinhua News Agency also published a response to the article titled: “Lives in the City Cannot Be Fake” (“一个城市的生活无法“假装“).

Lashing out against Mr. Zhang, they write that: “Beijing has no human warmth, Beijing is a city of outsiders, old Beijingers can’t go back to their city – behind every one of these sentences is not the ‘fakeness’ of Beijing, but the clamor of the author’s emotions about ‘coming to Beijing.'”

State broadcaster CCTV (@央视新闻) also responds to the essay on Weibo, saying:

“Over the past few days, the essay ‘Beijing Has 20 Million People Pretending to Live There’ has exploded on the Internet, but how the text portrays the contrast between old Beijingers and new immigrants is exaggerated, and it polarizes the relationship between native Beijingers and outsiders. In reality, Beijing is not as cold as it is described in the essay. Everyone already knows that it’s not easy living in a big city. The future of Beijing is in the hands of competent, daring and hardworking people who pursue their dreams.”

 

A STORM OF DEBATE

“I am one of these 20 million people, and my life is not fake – I am living it.”

 

On social media, many netizens commented on the state media’s responses to Zhang, saying they were tired of the repeated emphasis on “people’s dreams.” One person said: “My belly is empty, what are you talking about dreams for?! Dreams cannot guarantee our most basic needs for survival.”

Many people on Weibo and QQ also applauded Zhang’s essay for being “well-written”, “honest”, and “real.”

But there are also those who do not agree with the essay and take offense at how it describes Beijingers leading “fake” or “pretense” lives. A Beijing resident nicknamed ‘Little Fish’ (@小小的爱鱼) commented: “What on earth gave him the courage to speak on behalf of 20 million Beijing people? I am one of these 20 million people, and sorry, but my life is not fake – I am living it.”

“I work overtime until 9 pm, then take the bus and subway and won’t arrive home before 23:38, then quickly rinse my face and brush my teeth and roll into bed. But it’s still life. What life and being alive is all about ultimately is a personal issue,” one other netizen from Beijing says.

“Mr. Zhang,” one angry commenter writes: “You can leave this cold and big city of Beijing, and go back to your ‘real’ live in that pigsty of yours that’s supposedly more imposing than the Forbidden City.”

The recent hype surrounding Zhang’s essay somewhat resembles the overnight buzz over the autobiographical essay of Beijing migrant worker Fan Yusu. This essay also described various hardships in the lives of Beijing migrant workers.

Fan Yusu’s essay and posts related to it were also taken offline after several days when discussions on the account spread across Chinese social media.

Zhang’s hit essay shows that the combination of writing about “migrant workers + Beijing + real estate + state of life” = indeed one that is bound to attract wide attention and debate on social media. Although it is also a recurring topic in China’s official media, those channels prefer to focus on the idea of hardworking people who pursue their (Chinese) dreams, rather than to spread a narrative about people living “fake lives” in a cold city.

One commenter says: “Whether you fake it or you try hard, it’s all okay: this is Beijing. It’s not livable, but you sure can make a living.”

By Manya Koetse

Special thanks to Diandian Guo.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

These are the 100 Terms the Communist Party Wants You to Know for the 19th CPC National Congress

100 “must-know” terms for the 19th National Congress, propagated by People’s Daily.

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These are the 100 terms to know for the 19th CPC National Congress – propagated by People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, on Weibo.

It is the week of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), better known as the “19th Party Congress.” This meeting, that takes place from October 18 to October 24, is a major event that takes place every five years.

On Chinese social media, Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily (@人民日报) presented a vocabulary list for people to know before the huge political event.

During the 19th Party Congress approximately 2280 delegates from across the nation officially come together to select the party’s top leadership for the next five years. The event is also called a “celebration of decisions that have already been taken,” as the key points of the meeting have mostly already been settled behind closed doors.

It is these key decisions for China that will be discussed during the CPC National Congress and then officially announced, representing “new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies proposed by the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core” (Xinhua).

In a recent report by APCO Worldwide, Gary Li summarizes what to look out for during the 19th National Congress, writing that it is likely for President Xi Jinping to “consolidate his power further by making changes to the party apparatus,” influencing regulators in various sectors from finance to trade and cybersecurity.

Posting the 9-page list of a total of 100 terms on Weibo, People’s Daily (@人民日报) writes:

“Study time! We want to teach you the translation of 100 hot terms for the 19th CPC National Congress (..) Do you know how to say these things in English? This is how to avoid using Chinglish and to express [these terms] in a more authentic way. They are all useful for CET-4 & CET-6 [national English level tests in China] and other exams. Let’s learn these!”

By October 18, the list was shared 19000 times on Weibo and received many comments.

One netizen said: “With these 100 words you can understand a new China.” Others complained that they still think the English translation of these Chinese terms “sounds like Chinglish.”

 

Relevant Words: Policy Trends & Digital Focus

 

The vocabulary list, which was selected from China Daily‘s “Little Red Book of Hot Words” (热词红宝书), is an interesting combination of terms that says a lot about the focal points of the National Congress and the trends that are emphasized for the coming five years.

In the recent APCO report, Gary Li mentions Ideological Tightening as a crucial policy trend. This promotion of “Chinese values” is clearly visible in the vocabularly list, that includes terms such as “the Chinese Dream” (中国梦), “Stay true to the mission” (不忘初心), and “cultural confidence” (文化自信).

Another important policy trend on the government agenda is Anti-Corruption, which is represented by the term “anti-corruption TV series” (反腐剧).

The list also includes some Internet slang terms such as “give a like” (点赞) or “phubber”/”bowed head clan” (低头族), referring to people who constantly look down to their smartphone.

It also includes a catchphrase that became especially popular on Chinese social media in 2016 when it was used by Chinese swimming champion Fu Yuanhui during an interview about her winning medal during the Olympics – (“用了洪荒之力”), which can be translated as “I’ve used my primeval powers!”, basically meaning “to give one’s full play.”

Swimmer Fu Yuanhui went viral in 2016 when she introduced a new catchphrase that is still a hot online sentence.

The inclusion of some typical internet catchphrases is especially noteworthy because in 2014, Chinese state media published that programs and commercials should not use Internet language to preserve traditional expressions.

The entire list has a clear Digital Focus when it comes to different industries, including government, media, finance, and traveling, introducing words such as “in-flight Wifi services” (空中上网服务), “face scan payment” (扫脸支付), 5G era (5G时代), and taxi-hailing app (打车软件).

The Belt and Road initiative and China’s role in the world is an important point on this year’s agenda.

The list also includes words that emphasize the Belt and Road Initiative and China-centric Relations for Economy and Trade, such as the “New type of major-power relationship” (新型大国关系).

 

The List: 100 Hot Words for the 19th National Congress

 

This is the full list of the 100 terms as shared by the People’s Daily through screenshots, typed out by What’s on Weibo. The pinyin and tones are also provided by What’s on Weibo.

1. 中国梦
Zhōngguó mèng
China dream

2. 不忘初心
Bù wàng chūxīn
Stay true to the mission

3. 两个一百年
Liǎng gè yībǎi nián
Two centenary goals

4. 新常态
Xīn chángtài
New normal

5. 中国制造2025
Zhōngguó zhìzào 2025
Made in China 2025

6. “双一流”
Shuāng yīliú
Double First-Class initiative

7. 工匠精神
Gōngjiàng jīngshén
Craftsmanship spirit

8. 中国天眼:500米口径球面射电望远镜(FAST)
Zhōngguó tiānyǎn:500 Mǐ kǒujìng qiúmiàn shèdiàn wàngyuǎnjìng (FAST)
China’s Eye of Heaven: The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

9. 歼-20战斗机
Jiān-20 zhàndòujī
J-20 Stealth Fighter

10. 国产航母
Guóchǎn hángmǔ
Domestically built aircraft carrier

11. 国产客机
Guóchǎn kèjī
Homemade passenger jet

12. 可燃冰试采
Kěrán bīng shì cǎi
Sampling of combustible ice

13. 量子卫星”墨子号”
Liàngzǐ wèixīng “mò zi hào”
Quantum satellite “Micius”

14. 北斗卫星导航系统
Běidǒu wèixīng dǎoháng xìtǒng
Beidou navigation system

15. 风云四号A星卫星
Fēngyún sì hào A xīng wèixīng
Fengyun-4A satellite

16. 重型运载火箭
Zhòngxíng yùnzài huǒjiàn
Heavy-lift Carrier Rocket

17. 沪港通
Hù gǎng tōng
Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect

18. 深港通
Shēn gǎng tōng
Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect

19. 京津冀一体化
Jīng jīn jì yītǐ huà
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration

20. 雄安新区
Xióng ān xīnqū
Xiong’an New Area

21. 自贸实验区
Zì mào shíyàn qū
Pilot Free Trade Zones

22. 医疗改革
Yīliáo gǎigé
Medical Reform

23. 供给侧改革
Gōngjǐ cè gǎigé
Supply-side reform

24. 扫脸支付
Sǎo liǎn zhīfù
Face scan payment

25. 二维码支付
Èr wéi mǎ zhīfù
Two-dimensional barcode payment

26. 人工智能
Réngōng zhìnéng
Artificial intelligence

27. 虚拟现实
Xūnǐ xiànshí
Virtual reality

28. 5G时代
5G shídài
5G era

29. 分享经济
Fēnxiǎng jīngjì
Sharing economy

30. 互联网金融
Hùliánwǎng jīnróng
Online finance

31. 亚投行
Yà tóuháng
Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank

32. 低碳城市
Dī tàn chéngshì
Low-carbon cities

33. 一小时通通勤圈
Yī xiǎoshí tōng tōngqín quān
One-hour commuting circle

34. 蓝色经济
Lán sè jīngjì
Blue economy

35. 纵向横向经济轴带
Zòngxiàng héngxiàng jīngjì zhóu dài
North-south and east-west intersecting economic belts

36. 众创、众包、众扶、众筹
Zhòng chuàng, zhòng bāo, zhòng fú, zhòng chóu
Crowd innovation, crowdsourcing,crowd support and crowdfunding.

37. 战略性新兴产业
Zhànlüè xìng xīnxīng chǎnyè
Emerging sectors of strategic importance

38. 香港回归祖国20周年
Xiānggǎng huíguī zǔguó 20 zhōunián
The 20th anniversary of Hong-Kong’s return to China

39. 点赞
Diǎn zàn
Give a like

40.自媒体
Zì méitǐ
We-Media

41. 实名认证
Shímíng rènzhèng
Real name authentication

42. 精准扶贫
Jīngzhǔn fúpín
Targeted poverty reduction

43. 精准医疗
Jīngzhǔn yīliáo
Precision medicine

44. 利益共同体
Lìyì gòngtóngtǐ
Community of shared interests

45. 轨道交通
Guǐdào jiāotōng
Rail traffic

46. 动车
Dòngchē
Bullet train

47. 城际列车
Chéng jì lièchē
Inter-city transport

48. “一带一路”倡议
“Yīdài yīlù”chàngyì
Belt and Road Initiative

49. “丝绸之路经济带”
“Sīchóu zhī lù jīngjì dài”
The Silk Road Economic Belt

50. 21世纪海上丝绸之路
21 Shìjì hǎishàng sīchóu zhī lù
21st- Century Maritime Silk Road

51. 古丝绸之路
Gǔ sīchóu zhī lù
The Ancient Silk Road

52. 互联互通
Hùlián hùtōng
Establish and Strengthen Partnerships/Connectivity

53. 文化自信
Wénhuà zìxìn
Cultural confidence

54. 新型大国关系
Xīnxíng dàguó guānxì
New type of major-power relationship

55. 可替代能源汽车
Kě tìdài néngyuán qìchē
Alternative energy vehicle

56. 可载人无人机
Kě zài rén wú rén jī
Passenger-carrying drone

57. 空中上网服务
Kōngzhōng shàngwǎng fúwù
In-flight Wifi services

58. 海外购外
Hǎiwài gòu wài
Overseas shopping representative

59. 海淘
Hǎi táo
Cross-border online shopping

60. 多次往返签证
Duō cì wǎngfǎn qiānzhèng
Multiple entry visa

61. 散客
Sǎn kè
Individual traveler

62. 自由行
Zìyóu xíng
Independent travel

63. 跟团游
Gēn tuán yóu
Package tour

64.深度游
Shēndù yóu
In-depth travel

65. 自驾游
Zìjià yóu
Self-driving tours

66. 免税店
Miǎnshuì diàn
Duty-free store

67. 无现金支付
Wú xiànjīn zhīfù
Cashless payment

68. 旺季
Wàngjì
Peak season

69. 淡季
Dànjì
Offseason

70. 反腐剧
Fǎnfǔ jù
Anti-corruption TV series

71. 合拍片
Hépāi piàn
Co-production

72. 打车软件
Dǎchē ruǎnjiàn
Taxi-hailing app

73. 代驾服务业
Dài jià fúwù yè
Designated driver business

74. 单双号银行
Dān shuāng hào yínháng
Traffic restrictions based on even- and odd-numbered license plates

75. 共享汽车
Gòngxiǎng qìchē
Car-sharing

76. 绿色金融改革新试验区
Lǜsè jīnróng gǎigé xīn shìyàn qū
Pilot zones for green finance reform and innovations

77. 超国民待遇
Chāo guómín dàiyù
Super-national treatment

78. 现代医院管理制度
Xiàndài yīyuàn guǎnlǐ zhìdù
Modern hospital management system

79. 机遇之城
Jīyù zhī chéng
Cities of opportunities

80.直播经济
Zhíbò jīngjì
Live stream economy

81. 互联网+政府服务
Hùliánwǎng +zhèngfǔ fúwù
Internet Plus government services

82. 创新型政府
Chuàngxīn xíng zhèngfǔ
Pro-innovation government

83. 无人机紧急救援队
Wú rén jī jǐnjí jiùyuán duì
UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) emergency rescue team

84. 二孩经济
Èr hái jīngjì
Second-child economy

85.父亲假;陪产假
Fùqīn jià; péi chǎnjià
Paternity leave

86. 带薪休假
Dài xīn xiūjià
Paid leave

87. 低头族
Dītóu zú
Phubber

88. 副中心
Fù zhōngxīn
Subcenter

89. 用了洪荒之力
Yòngle hónghuāng zhī lì
Give one’s full play

90. 营改增
Yíng gǎi zēng
Replace business tax with value-add tax (VAT)

91. 创新型人才
Chuàngxīn xíng réncái
Innovative talent

92. 积分落户制度
Jīfēn luòhù zhìdù
Points-based hukou system

93. 混合所有制改革
Hùnhé suǒyǒuzhì gǎigé
Mixed-ownership reform

94. 税收减免
Shuìshōu jiǎnmiǎn
Tax reduction and exemption

95. 生态保护红线
Shēngtài bǎohù hóngxiàn
Ecological wealth

96. 网约车
Wǎng yuē chē
Online car-hailing

97. 宜居城市
Yí jū chéngshì
Habitable city

98. 移动支付
Yídòng zhīfù
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By Manya Koetse

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China Insight

Pet Hotels are Booming Business in Beijing

Chinese pet lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet a comfortable stay at one of Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ (宠物酒店).

Qing Yan

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The success of luxurious pet lodging in Beijing has become especially apparent over the past October holiday. Chinese animal lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet the time of their lives while they are out of town.

For loving pet owners, before heading out on a holiday, finding a trustworthy pet lodge is often just as important as finding a comfortable hotel for themselves. And nowadays, both should be booked as early as possible during a holiday season.

In Beijing, the booming business of pet lodging was especially noticeable during the Golden Week holiday. Various Chinese media reported that pet hotels in Beijing have become so popular that they were already fully booked a month before the holiday started.

This is also what Zhang Wen, a local pet lodge owner, told Beijing Youth Daily (@北京青年报). He and his colleagues are specialized in tending to every possible need of Beijing’s household pets while their families are taking a holiday.

Some pet hotels now charge as high as 900 RMB (±136$) per day to lodge a pet. The pet lodging business is quickly expanding across Beijing. Some local residents now also improvise lodging facilities in their private homes, asking approximately 30-50 RMB (±5-8$) per day.

With a growing demand for comfortable lodges for family pets, Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ are increasingly competitive. Some offer private rooms for dogs and assign a member of staff for every pet to look after its diet, sanitation, cleaning, and exercise.

Some pet hotels are even equipped with sporting, beauty, bathing, and water purification facilities, resembling a five-star hotel. Non-traditional pets such as spiders and lizards are also welcome, as long as their owners clarify their routines in advance.

Criticism on luxurious pet hotels

On Weibo, the topic “Luxurious Pet Hotel Charges 900 RMB Per Day” (#豪华宠物酒店900一天#) received some 15 million views this October.

The news, which was first reported by Beijing Youth Daily, stirred discussions on social media. Although many people find the pet hotels cute or funny, there are also many who comment that this kind of extravagance for pets painfully points out the rich-poor divide in China.

“Dogs are living a better life than us humans now,” some said: “I can’t even stay at a hotel that is this expensive.”

One netizen sarcastically commented: “If you can’t afford housing in Beijing, just go and become a pet to someone here.”

Some even find the boom in luxurious pet hotels a worrying trend, saying “this will intensify the social conflicts.”

Besides the extravagant pet spoiling, there are also other reasons why netizens criticize the spread of fancy pet lodging. On social media, questions over epidemic issues are also surfacing.

Some companies that were interviewed by Chinese media failed to show any credentials for providing lodging services and had no in-house veterinary to offer health examinations for the pets taken in; China currently does not have a specific national legal framework nor corresponding regulatory measures for qualified pet lodgings.

By Qing Yan

Edited by Manya Koetse.
©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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