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Of class and caravan parks

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2015-09-25
Chinese economy is collapsing. We all know that right? All of us except about a billion Chinese, many of whom are out enjoying themselves like there’s no dire tomorrow.

At just about the time that the west recently awakened from its summer market torpor to get into a right panic about Chinese growth, Liang Lulu and her friends were taking a passel of kids out for a night at a Chinese caravan park — just for the sheer fun of being a member of the nouveau middle class in China.

The kids — for whom the gruelling school year starts on Tuesday — were darting in and out of the caravans at the Chongming Dongping Forest Park, about an hour outside Shanghai. And the mums were having a blast taking selfies of all the merriment. It’s enough to make one wonder why they were not inside watching grim prognostications about the Chinese economy, on the caravan’s flatscreen television. Instead, they were doing what China’s State Council, or cabinet, recently decreed they should do lots more of: taking time off to spend money and boost the domestic economy.

On August 11, for example, the State Council announced that it wanted employers to give Chinese workers half a day off every Friday in the summertime, so that they could do things like caravanning. That’s hardly a classic Chinese response to impending destitution: work less. But that’s the point. China aims to boost its economy not by making more exportable widgets but by persuading its citizens to spend more on things such as tourism and relaxation, hoping that will take up the economic slack, in the new, less manufacturing-dependent China. So, in good old authoritarian style, the mandarins have decreed that the country needs more caravan parks, ski resorts, cruise terminals — and 57,000 new or renovated toilets at tourist attractions.

In fact, toilets are a bit of a focus here, too: April Pan, 12, even manages to tear herself away from afternoon TV just to wax lyrical about the loo and its adjacent compact bath. April has come to Chongming for her first recreational-vehicle experience, with her father and five-year brother — with whom she will share the mini bunk beds. Chen Lina is at the park with husband, daughter and granny (a classic combination in China’s RV world). Like everyone else we met at the park, they are RV newbies: “I never knew there was a bathroom inside,” says April, who says the loo is her “favourite room”.

RVs don’t come cheap, though. Buying one can easily cost half a million renminbi ($78,000) or more, and even one night’s rental at Chongming on a weekend — the park’s 90 stationary caravans are mostly full on summer weekends — can cost Rmb900 or more, as much as a luxury hotel room (without the joys of a chemical toilet). And they don’t even have the facilities much beloved of overseas caravan fanatics: there was no cooker in the ones we visited. On the other hand, one of the joys of stationary RV camping — not a pastime that’s much of a hit in the west, where RV campers usually prefer self-drive — is that you don’t have to worry about where to dump the contents of the loo.

I did that recently in New Zealand and a national park warden (quite rightly) made me feel like a sociopath. But in China, it seems, that simply is not an issue. Doubtless, the State Council will see fit to publish a decree about that too — hopefully before too much RV waste finds its way into China’s already too-fragrant rivers.
Mr Wang says China’s recent stock market misfortunes could mean some clients might not have the liquidity right now to fork out Rmb500,000 in cash for a custom-made RV. But nobody thinks this market is going anywhere but way, way up in the near term. It seems somebody forgot to tell the RV enthusiasts that there’s an economic collapse around the corner.