Tuesday, 24 May 2011

China’s Super Rich Get All the Headlines






 Ray Kwong

I think we can all agree that China has a lot of newly minted millionaires and billionaires, and that along with the only slightly less privileged they’ve made a significant impact on the global luxury market.
Without a doubt, they make great copy—expressing their collective capitalist thoughts by buying up expensive cars, yachts, private jets and even helicopters.

                All photos by M. Scott Brauer

But what about the common people on the street? What’s the average Zhou Blow thinking and what does he have to say?

Enter We Chinese, a photo project that doesn’t profess to be much more than that, but still provides a fascinating quick read on what Chinese people think about China and the part they see themselves playing in their homeland’s future. A few random excerpts:
  • “I am a builder of China’s future, just like a component of an airplane, and with me China will soar even farther in the future,” said Cen Qi, 24, a student. “China includes Taiwan, where Chinese people reside, and it is the abbreviation of the People’s Republic of China.”
  • “China is just the name of a country,” said Bo Wei Jun, 36, an engineer. “Occasionally the people bring up suggestions, but nobody listens.”
  • [China means] “hope, power and culture,” said Ya Ming, 47, a reporter. [My role] is “to make a bigger contribution to world peace.”
  • “A ‘voiceless’ person has no way of offering society even the smallest contribution,” said Rui Ling Yan, 21, a student. “China is my ancestral country mother. It’s what I hold most dear.”



Scott Brauer, a photojournalist and former China resident, started the We Chinese project as a way to respond to friends’, family’s, and strangers’ questions about the global direction of China and their stereotypes of the people.

“The project aims to give faces and voices to a small section of the Chinese people caught in the center of historic shifts in the country’s socioeconomic circumstances,” said Brauer.

While you can’t draw any conclusions about the entire population—the final project has just 100 portraits and short interviews—the sentiments are revealing. Brauer says: “the responses range from prosaic to poetic, from rote to inspired, and from unemotional to patriotic. The people photographed expressed a sincere love of country and optimism about the country’s future development and peaceful position in the world.”

We Chinese is definitely worth a look-see.

For a more in-depth look at China, as told by leading participants in or observers of China’s transformation over the past three decades, go to Asia Society’s China Boom website which I wrote about previously here.

Newscribe : get free news in real time