In his report delivered at the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Jiang Zemin recommended that the proportion of middle-income earners needs to be raised to help maintain social stability. Not long ago, at a seminar held in Shenzhen, sponsored by the State Information Center, participating experts and scholars pointed out that 200 million Chinese people will join the ranks of the “middle class” consumer group over the next five years.
“Middle class” on the Chinese mainland refers to the group of people with stable incomes, capable of purchasing private houses and cars, and can afford the costs of education and holidays. They are regarded as “a group which is tired in body, while in mind fastidious about the quality of life.”
Experts list the typical expenses of China’s “middle class” by taking a characteristic young family as their base: 1,500-5,000 yuan (US$181.2-603.9) for food and beverage per month, 600-1,500 yuan (US$72.5-181.2) for medical insurance, 300-5,000 yuan (US$36.2-603.9) for education, 500-1,000 yuan (US$60.4-120.8) for communication and transportation, 1,000-5,000 yuan (US$120.8-603.9) for clothes and beauty treatment, and 600-3,500 yuan (US$72.5-422.7) for sports and entertainment activities.
In short, a typical young family needs to earn at least 10,000 yuan (US$1,207.7) per month if they want to lead a standard “middle class” life. For a mid-level middle class family, the couple needs to earn 20,000 yuan (US$2,415.5) per month, while 40,000 yuan (US$4,830.9) constitutes an upper middle class family.
Economists and sociologists have made a specific analysis and clearly defined what they believe will compose the Chinese “middle class” of the future. They suppose five categories of people will represent the new middle class: scientific development entrepreneurs; Chinese managerial staff working in foreign firms in China; middle and high-level managerial staff in state-owned financial institutions; professional technicians in various fields especially in intermediary firms; and some self-employed private entrepreneurs.
Since China’s entry to the World Trade Organization, the compensation for a range of talented people has generally risen by a considerable margin, especially for people working in high-tech industries. Experts estimate that people with high level skills in international finance and trade, the IT industry, medical and biological industries and foreign languages will be in great demand. As a result, the price of talent will certainly soar. Moreover, the differences in levels of compensation will continue to grow for people with similar levels of education but who work in different professions or have different capabilities.
Economists predict that the population of middle class in China’s big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen where the economy is developing rapidly, will increase with geometrical progression in one to two decades, forming a mainstream social group not to be ignored.
(china.org.cn translated by Zhang Tingting, December 10, 2002)