Although both groups are called the “middle class”, both groups in the US and China differ greatly, celebrity author Helen Wang explains in an interview with Womenetics on her book “The Chinese Dream”.
Womenetics: China has never officially defined middle class, which is a typically Western term. When you wrote the book, how did you define the class?
Wang: In the book, the middle class is defined by family income between 5,000 yuan ($773) and 30,000 yuan ($4,641) per month. However, owning an apartment is essential.
Womenetics: What are the differences between the Chinese middle class and the American middle class, in terms of what they care about and the lifestyle they are pursuing?
Wang: In China, middle class is a prestige group, which people look up to. People of the middle class are expected to have good manners and a trendy lifestyle. But in the United States, the middle class is nothing special, as the majority of Americans think they belong to the middle class. Unlike a Chinese middle class family who prefers to live in the downtown areas, a typical American middle class family usually lives in the suburbs. That is because in China, the gap of living conditions between city and rural areas is big, and there is practically no suburb. ..
Womenetics: Emigration is now a very hot topic among Chinese middle class. How do you look at this?
Wang: I think the growing number of Chinese middle class families moving abroad shows they feel insecure about the situation in China. It is certainly not something good for China, but for those people, they have to know life in another country will be tough because emigration involves lots of changes in life, including career and social network. On the other hand, based on my experiences in the United States, I believe as long as you are talented and determined, you will have opportunities to make your dream come true.