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Middle Class Standard Rebuked by Many
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A recent lifestyle survey conducted by a subordinate body of the National Bureau of Statistics has ranked everyone with a monthly salary of 2,000 yuan or above as China's new-middle class.

Hinted by a China National Research Center (CNRC), the definition of China's new-middle class is widely considered authority, given its NBS background.

The CNRC launched a nationwide survey on September 22 in a bid to get a close-up on the lifestyle and consumption habits of China's new-middle class.

The questionnaire covered items such as travel, vehicle ownership, brand preference, and personal financing and was given to urbanites that earn at least 2,000 yuan per month in China's top metropolises, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

For less advanced cities, the middle class entrance bar was set at 1,500 yuan a month.

However, 70 percent of all respondents to the survey from 47 cities across the country earned nearly double the modest threshold of 2,000 yuan,.

Sixty percent of those polled hold a bachelor's degree. More than 70 percent prefer traveling during paid holidays rather than during Golden Week.

Urbanites working in diverse white-collar professions make up the majority of China's new middle class.

Civil servants, lawyers, accountants, freelancers, entertainers, medical workers, teachers, athletes, and reporters also made the list.

Full time housewives are shown full respect, jumping to the neo-middle class club as a profession. While many wonder how can a housewife be deemed a profession if she is not making a salary.

CNRC secretary general Zhang Zhongliang said the study set out six criteria to determine middle class status: education, salary, profession, societal influence, savings and holidays. .

Some netizens had issues with the CNRC's definition of middle class. "One can only just survive in Beijing making 2,000 yuan a month," wrote a netizen on sina.com, one of China's major news portals.

A netizen named "mockingbird" wrote on sina.com that nearly everyone in Shanghai would be classified as middle class, according to the CNRC's low standard.

In response to these queries Zhang said that monthly salary was not the only standard the CNRC used to define the new middle class in China, but offered no further details.

(China Daily November 13, 2006)

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