China’s “Comfort Class” | The Bling Dynasty, National Geographic Magazine: Granvill Shopping Mall in Guangzhou China

The government has made clear that it will do whatever it takes to keep the swelling middle class happy. Like anyone else, their experiences and those of their families shape members of the comfort class. When their parents talk about the Great Leap Forward (the disastrous Mao campaign in the late 1950s that left 20 to 30 million dead of starvation) and the subsequent chaos of the Cultural Revolution, they mostly tell horror stories that would put anyone off politics forever. One event that the comfort class does remember is the crackdown on Tiananmen Square in 1989. But to young Chinese, the Tiananmen protests are less a source of inspiration than an admonishment. Continued popular uprisings like Tiananmen, they believe, would have have provoked a counter reaction by conservative forces that would have led to a return to fortress China, meaning no more iPods, overseas shopping trips or snowboarding weekends.

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