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福樂神學院榮休院長 Mouw 談中國的新興消費主義

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The Justin Bieber t-shirt, however, went a significant step further. It struck me as a sign of a new social reality in China. A month or so before that visit to China, I had attended a lecture by someone who studies the fashion industry. She observed that a few decades ago teenagers in the United States got their main fashion cues from the ads in Seventeen magazine. Today, she said, it is all about social media. One of her examples was a teenager in Seoul who had bought a blouse at a local branch of Forever 21. That night she tweeted about it to a friend in Omaha, Nebraska. Her glowing comment was re-tweeted and the next day the item sold out in Omaha stores.

The Justin Bieber t-shirt in Xi’an doesn’t only mark the rise of consumerism. It heralds a global youth culture. If I were an official in the Chinese government, I would worry as much about those teenage girls at the shopping mall as about prominent political dissidents. Those young folks are nurturing loyalties to a network of other teenagers around the world, and I wonder whether any totalitarian government can tame that network. I’m no Justin Bieber fan, but I am encouraged by the Xi-an t-shirt.

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