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Citizens Enjoy Rich Living
Boasting bulging wallets, Beijing's citizens splashed out on richer living during the first nine months of the year, a report by the Beijing Municipal Statistics Bureau revealed.

Take food for instance. People are no longer contented with simply filling their stomachs.

"They are more than ever concerned with taste and nutritional value, as well as the dining environment," said Zhang Xueyuan, a publicity official with the bureau.

As a result, the consumption of flour, which used to be a major raw material of Beijing's local dishes, has dropped 67.9 per cent compared with the same period the previous year.

Highly nutritious coarse cereals, such as corn and millet, have jumped 72.9 per cent while milk has continued its ongoing steady rise, with an increase of 7.9 per cent.

But while the proportion of money spent on food has steadily decreased over the past few years, the actual amount spent has increased.

The per capita food expenditure of Beijingers in this year's first three quarters was 2,599 yuan (US$313.9), up 7.1 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

One major reason for this increase, said Zhang, is the willingness of people to buy higher quality and more expensive vegetables, fruit, meat and fish and also to dine out more.

"Eating at a restaurant is a common practice during holidays. Most of the famous restaurants, such as the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant at Qianmen, have to be booked in advance, particularly on public holidays, such as National Day (October 1)," said Zhang.

Housing, cars and mobile telephones are also enticing Beijingers to part with their money, ranking more and more of them high on the "willing-to-pay" list.

Astonishingly, the number of people with a mobile telephone in Beijing by the end of September had increased by 70.9 per cent on the same period last year.

Translated into human terms that mean for every 100 people in the city there are now 96.2 mobile telephones.

(China Daily October 31, 2002)

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