Foreign commissioning editors get a lot of pitches like this: “The Chinese are now watching Homeland / eating caviar / behaving like us.” These activities usually owe to the fact that a few ultra-wealthy Chinese have found some new, pointlessly expensive Western habit — like high-end gold hi-fi aficionado clubs, or bottles of purified Moon water with powdered diamante — and taken them up. The reasons behind this – an absence of proper leisure culture, the need to splash money like a great white shark constantly on the move, the narrowness of investment opportunities in China, etc. – are often far more interesting than the habit itself.
So here’s an example of utter, utter bollocks. A news group interviews one super-wealthy enthusiast and a shop owner in Hong Kong (Hong Kong!) to conclude that “more and more Chinese” are buying luxury bikes as status symbols. The group doesn’t do the most basic journo-hackery “due diligence” of finding three individuals to conclude that this is apparently a trend.
This weekend I bought a 3,200-kuai Tern Link D8 that most Chinese would rightly consider exorbitant. (It was a Christmas present to myself, OK?) The first shop I tried, an HK retailer called R Bike in Solana that reportedly stocked highly affordable, high-end folders by Ferrari, JEEP (brands mentioned in the embedded film), etc., was unexpectedly shuttered, the small, second-floor concession as quiet as the rest of Solana. The next store, Serk, where I made the purchase, is a bike bar off Dongzhimen Beixaiojie that should be teeming with hipsters; they said business was so quiet, they were barely opening in winter. Then there’s the Drive Thru, a nifty bike-bottle-shop-bar-spice thang in SOHO that’s like a graveyard by day until Sanlitun’s offices close and the lycra’ed two-wheeler enthusiasts drop by to mingle between 7 and 9 pm.
With such lackadaisical research, spurious claims and circumstantial “evidence,” you would assume today’s edition of Chinabollocks must have been spawned within a foreign newsroom with zero overseas resources and a vague, foggy China knowledge, right? Or, maybe it was, you know… Reuters.