Saturday, February 12, 2011

Food For Thought - Insustainability in China

I was helping a friend today prepare for her IELTS exam.  It's an international standard test for measuring one's level of English, valued by schools and employers.  I found out her monthly pay is 3000 RMB.  This is at one of China's top high tech employers, a globally respected brand.  She's been working there for 1 year after graduating from university.  She speaks and writes four languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and English.

Later, I went to the bank and paid my monthly apartment rent.  It costs me 3000 RMB each month.  I'm not renting a particularly impressive apartment.  It's perhaps about 40 square metres.  But it's clean and conveniently close to work, which is why I like it.  But it's definitely not impressive, at least not by the standards of most people I know back home.  It has a bedroom, den, kitchen, bathroom, small living room, and a small balcony (for hanging clothes to dry after they've been washed).

Think about that for a second.  A 2nd-year multi-lingual employee working for one of the top companies in China makes as much money as I pay for a 1-bedroom apartment.  She commented that her mom wants her to buy a home eventually, but she thinks she'd never be able to own a home.  She said this matter-of-factly, not sadly.  She's a pretty bubbly person.  Maybe she's only young and naive.  I doubt it.

But not everyone can be so bubbly and carefree.  A lot of people would lose hope and confidence.  There are over 1.3 billion people in China.  Millions and millions of university students and graduates entering and exiting the education system.  Their ceiling salary rate would be enough to barely pay the rent when they enter the workforce.  You think Egypt had it bad?  Lots of young, educated people without jobs?  Algeria's going down right now?  This can't end well.  If the Chinese government can somehow pull this off, it would be a miracle.  I am more and more convinced each day that the Chinese government is facing the most difficult societal issues of our world and time, simply due to scale.


  1. Housing prices have reached insane levels in Metro Vancouver as well. The average home price to income ratio is completely out of whack. I'm bracing for a severe correction in the not too distant future. It will not be pretty.

  2. I suggest that the Chinese government must do something about this issue before the real problem comes to worst.

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  3. If you're in an urban area, I think the house you're going to stay in shouldn't be an issue. Even if it's not that impressive, I still think you're lucky you have it.

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