Bloggers take a swipe at 'fashion week'
Plenty of famous faces, pomp and pageantry at the most significant annual political events in China have drawn much interest this week from the nation's army of web users, many of whom have taken a very critical stance on the lavish displays in a country where millions still live on less than US$1 a day.
Microbloggers in particular have taken to the internet en masse to comment on what people are wearing at the ongoing annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the China People's Political Consultative Conference.
And images have been widely circulated of some delegates donning expensive brand-name clothing.
One of the most reposted comments was that 'the two sessions have made this Beijing Fashion Week'.
There has been no shortage of pictures or analyses of the delegates' outfits, including about the designers, brands and even the market prices of the apparel.
One image, circulated more than 20,000 times on Sina's microblog site, showed CPPCC member Li Xiaolin - chairwoman of China Power International Development and daughter of former premier Li Peng - wearing a pearl Chanel necklace with a pink outfit from Emilio Pucci's spring collection said to be worth around US$2,000.
Another CPPCC member, famous singer Song Zuying, was seen wearing a fur coat, gold-chain Chanel boots and a Piaget Limelight Magic Hour watch valued at 240,000 yuan (HK$295,000).
Yang Lan, a talk show host and businesswoman, was snapped carrying a Marc Jacobs handbag, drawing both criticism for extravagance and jeers from fashionistas for being behind the times, as the bag was said to be several seasons old.
Other luxury designers' gear on display included CCTV News broadcaster Li Ruiying's Dior eyeglasses, and Evergrande Real Estate Group chairman Xu Jiayin's Hermes leather belt, appraised at 20,000 yuan. 'Do these deputies and delegates really represent the people?' one web user said. Others lamented the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor in China.
Some used their microblogs to criticise the participants for showing off their wealth during sessions that are supposed to be forums for discussing important national affairs.
However, some web users have come to the defence of the delegates, saying they are entitled to wear what they want, while suggesting that people should focus more on the delegates' proposals.
'As long as they made their money morally, why can't they dress fashionably?' one post said.
Liu Kaiming , director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation in Shenzhen, says the wearing of luxury apparel by NPC and CPPCC participants is a trend that has lasted several years.
'It is normal for them to dress that way, as they are either rich or powerful. Their incomes are far beyond those of the average person,' Liu said.
Li also said the delegates were mostly elite citizens selected by the government rather than elected by the people, so people were paying more attention to their luxurious appearances because many of their proposals were of poor quality.