China’s middle class a powerhouse



November 19, 2018 - 11:04 AM

YANTAI, China — They shop in malls and high-end supermarkets, buy condos by the seaside, attend wine tastings, vacation abroad, and push their kids to apply to Harvard. But they aren’t American suburbanites; they are China’s huge and growing urban middle class, which Beijing hopes will eventually consume enough to lower the country’s dependence on exports.

Whatever the outcome of the U.S.-China trade war — and any tete-a-tete between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping at the upcoming G-20 meeting in Argentina — China’s urban middle class is set to become a major driver of the global economy. And a major force in the wider world.

If you trust Chinese government figures, the middle class already tops 400 million, larger than the entire U.S. population. Even if you cut that figure in half, it outstrips the U.S. middle class of roughly 120 million. Moreover, despite far lower earnings than their Western counterparts, lower costs in China give them living standards approximating southern Europe.

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