China’s political elite have but one opportunity each year to put the “party” into “National Party Congress,” and darn it, that time is now. While there was the usual yada yada about slowing growth, those-in-the-know know the hottest news is not found in the speeches. Kremlinologists came out of the woodwork to note that Bo Xilai’s chair was slightly distanced from Xu Caihou, proving he’s been completely cut off from the Politburo. Fashionistas displayed their bling in full force: Marc Jacobs and Birkin bags were only some of the more subtle touches. “It’s a suit of fury,” Li Xiaolin told reporters of her US$2,000 bright-pink Emilio Pucci suit. “Gotta be dressed to [expletive] kill.” (The proletariat masses just don’t appreciate.) Media was also in top form: The always-edgy alternative newspaper People’s Daily wisely trained its taxpayer-funded cameras on the fairer sex, from killer event staff to hot journalists (who were themselves busy with lamestream mainstream media activities such as asking questions). Of course, every party has a pooper. Property developers spared no opportunity to moan about impending doom, and steel industry magnates waxed lyrical about their bloated industry. “I do think that [government property] measures are overly strict and in effect for too long,” said Huang Wenzai, chairman of luxury-property developer Star River Group. “Unlike this baby,” he added with a smile, pointing down to his Hermes-branded belt.
Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
This week saw the bust of one of the largest counterfeiting rings in US history, as authorities charged 29 people with smuggling US$325 million of fake products into the US. No doubt with the help of some down-on-their-luck Frank-Sobotka types, the group was smuggling in products including fake cigarettes, Nike and UGG footwear, and Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags. Port authorities caught wind of the plot when a middle-aged Chinese lady approached them waving a card with pictures of handbags and shouting “Cheaper for you!” In the days that followed, America began to collectively mourn its loss of cheap UGG boots – moving quickly through denial and anger, spending a bit more time bargaining, before taking a quick dip into depression and, finally, acceptance. Experts say this could be a preview of the emotional rollercoaster the nation faces in coming months as DC’s new bipartisan legislation designed to turn the nation into the leader in global shopping-bag-making comes into effect. Opined the People’s Daily: “Experts said that cheap but good Chinese products have brought tangible benefits to Americans by giving them more choices and reducing the country’s inflation rate.” No one knows the truth of this better than Chinese commerce minister Chen Deming, who took that sword of righteousness and brought the smack down. We at CER all cheered to see a Chinese official become, for the first time, quotable. “We follow the rules of the WTO, but we have no obligation to follow domestic laws or regulations in any specific country that go beyond international rules,” he said. Zing! Chen also noted that China’s overall trade surplus was only US$150 billion, but its trade surplus with the US was US$200 billion, adding, “Every man, free from prejudice and armed with common-sense economics, can come to the right conclusion.” Ka-bam! Take that, America. No more fake UGGs for you.