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China’s New Culture of Cool: Understanding the world’s fastest-growing market by Christopher Ireland, Cynthia Chan, Lianne Yu

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2. The Power in the Middle

The economic and developmental changes transforming China on a daily basis have created a demographic that is familiar to most Western countries but new to China. This new segment of society is the middle class.

The notion of middle class in China did not really emerge until the mid-1990s, and it’s still a relatively amorphous concept. In fact, although “middle class” is loosely translated zhong chan in Mandarin, the expression is not widely familiar. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), if a Chinese citizen has a stable income sufficient to afford an apartment, a car, a child’s education, and assorted more discretionary purchases like vacations, entertainment, and fashion, he or she is likely ...

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