Wang_Helen_HiRes_black_MG_1708Helen Wang by Fantake via Flickr

In her newly released book The Chinese Dream: The Rise of the World’s Largest Middle Class and What It Means to You, Helen Wang gives names and faces to the hundreds of millions Chinese who have been shaking off poverty in the past decades. In Forbes she kicks off a discussion that has already been heated in the past: how to define China’s middle class?

Since “middle class” is a Western concept, to a certain degree, it contains mythical elements for many Chinese. For example, they think middle class Westerners all own homes, drive cars, and travel for vacations. In addition, Chinese believe middle class people should have good manners and a tasteful lifestyle. They do not consider less-skilled professions such as waiting tables as middle class. In China, rural migrants who earn very low salaries mostly fill those jobs. 

In The Chinese Dream, I use a combination of these definitions: urban professionals and entrepreneurs from all walks of life, who have college degrees and earn an annual income from $10,000 to $60,000. Over three hundred million people, or about 25 percent of China’s population, met these criteria in 2010.

Please let me know whether you agree with these criteria. How would you define it?

More in Forbes.
More on her book here.

Helen Wang will be on Fox News 1270 Am talking about the Chinese middle class 9am Dec. 7th. She is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. when you need her at your meeting or conference, do get in touch.


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