Whenever there is a measure taken by the government, there will soon be a countermeasure, said George Chen of the South China Morning Post. That certainly seems to be the case in Shanghai, where an underground network for obtaining luxury goods and services has developed in response to Xi Jinping’s crackdown on consumption and corruption within the government.
While the stores on Nanjing Road may seem empty, business remains steady. Insiders say this is because officials and their families have taken to making purchases over the phone rather than to risk being spotted in stores.
Consumers now browse websites and catalogs for the products they want, call up their favorite boutiques, and have their items brought to their homes, paying cash on delivery. Additionally, when traveling abroad, those with ties to the government call for “room service” at their hotels rather than appearing in busy shopping centers.
To avoid being seen at too many lavish banquets, VIPs have also created a network of their own clubhouses. Often the clubs are disguised in undistinguished buildings in quiet residential areas. Membership can cost up to five million yuan annually. That seems steep for shabby accommodations, but behind closed doors await the top chefs, the best spirits, and an unending series of parties. “Important people” still get everything that they need, they have just developed a secret way to do it.
image credit: nz national party