Chinese Legislators Head Home Leaving Beijing Luxury Shelves Bare

Posted March 19th, 2012 at 3:05 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese state media are reporting some high-end stores in Beijing were cleaned out of luxury goods during this month's meetings of the nation's legislature and top advisory body.

The Communist Party-affiliated Global Times newspaper quotes a luxury industry expert who says he tried to buy a $44,000 Hermes diamond-decorated belt buckle but found the item sold out at several stores he visited.

The expert told Global Times that delegates to the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee account for 70 percent of luxury goods sold in Beijing during the month when they meet.

Chinese microblogs have been seething with comment about the lavish spending habits of the people's representatives, many of whom were seen sporting name-brand handbags, eyeglasses, belts and other items costing more than the average worker's annual salary.

Televised scenes of the lavishly dressed delegates prompted some bloggers to nickname the 10-day session which ended last week as “Beijing Fashion Week.”

The widening gap between China's wealthy and poor is causing concern among the communist country's leaders. Last year, Beijing authorities banned any public advertising that used the word “luxury,” or synonyms.