What do Shanghai’s IKEA and Cupid have in common?

June 19, 2012

IKEA seems to have been adopted by the Chinese. Back in November 2010, I wrote IKEA Sleepover in Beijing about IKEA’s Chinese fans that loved the place so much, it became a favorite spot to take a nap.

Recently, I discovered that IKEA in Shanghai is where retired, singles seek love while drinking free coffee.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the dating hot-spot for senior citizens who are out either looking for love or new friends, is none other than the Swedish furniture manufacturer.

Then in November 2011, NPR.org reported, “Twice a week, hundreds of Shanghai residents who have formed an informal lonely hearts club of sorts gather at the cafeteria of the Swedish furniture megastore for free coffee and conversation.

“The pensioners begin arriving around 1 in the afternoon and fill nearly 20 tables in the store cafeteria. They sit for hours drinking coffee, gossiping and subtly checking each other out.” If you click on NPR’s link above, you may listen to the story.

Global Post.com says, “Unlike bars or dance clubs, the atmosphere at IKEA is casual and non-threatening. It makes it easy for the seniors, who show up in groups of 70 to 700 people, to chat over a cup of coffee. And because IKEA serves free coffee to anybody carrying an IKEA Family membership card, some of the seniors don’t even have to pay for their cup. Zhou Hong works at IKEA as a card swiper, and she told The Wall Street Journal that on average, she hands out around 500 cups of coffee each time the seniors meet.”

However, IKEA isn’t the only one playing the role of a cupid in China. China’s postal service also plays cupid. Yahoo.com says, “Who would have thought that Beijing’s publicly run postal service would try to play cupid and save marriages from the “seven-year itch” (the critical point when, some say, a spouse’s eyes begin to wander)?”

But what about IKEA?  Is IKEA losing money giving away free coffee to help fill lonely hearts with caffeinated love?

According to the numbers, no.

In fact, IKEA is doing great. Three of its five largest stores are in China, and IKEA reported that in 2011, its net profits rose 10.3% to $3.85 billion with its biggest gains in Russia, China and Poland.

Maybe handing out free coffee to lonely seniors was a good idea.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

Advertisements

Kissinger on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” with Neal Conan and Ted Koppel – Part 3/3

July 11, 2011

NPR’s Neal Conan said the deaths from the Cultural Revolution were between 20 to 40 million, which demonstrated his ignorance since that many deaths took place earlier during The Great Leap Forward (1958 – 1960).

The Great Leap Forward was supposed to be a 5-year plan, but it was called off after just three tragic years. The period between 1958 and 1960 is known in China as the “Three Bitter Years”.

The loss of life during The Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) was about 2 (or more) million and many were suicides due to the denunciations and persecutions and the fact that society had been turned upside down. The Cultural Revolution deeply damaged the country economically and socially. Sociologist Daniel Chirot claims that around 100 million people suffered and at least one million people, and perhaps as many as 20 million, died in the Cultural Revolution but there is no way to prove this claim.

The deaths from the Great Leap Forward were mostly from starvation due to a famine, which may have been caused by a combination of Mao’s failed agricultural and industrialization policies and poor weather leading to crop failures and a famine. Since no one knows the exact number of deaths due to these blunders/weather, some have said 10 million while others have claimed 60 million. Most experts agree that the number was about 20 or 30 million.

What one believes about the results of The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution has to do with prejudices, or personal political opinions. One thing most can agree on is that this period of China’s history was a failure and a tragedy.

During the interview, no one asked or mentioned how the Communist Party led by Deng Xiaoping after Mao’s death in 1976, repudiated the Maoist Revolutionary thought that was responsible for the tragedy, and then opened China to world trade, joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) and launched the Chinese Capitalist Revolution leading to the economic miracle China has become today.

If you are interested in hearing the entire interview, visit Henry Kissinger appearing on NPR’s Talk of the Nation or read the transcript.

Return to Kissinger on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” – Part 2 or start with Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Kissinger on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” with Neal Conan and Ted Koppel – Part 2/3

July 10, 2011

During “Talk of the Nation” with Kissinger, Ted Koppel chimed in saying that after reading On China, he got a sense that Kissinger has developed great admiration for what the Chinese have accomplished.

Kissinger said that was correct, that he respected what the Chinese people have accomplished historically, which was the longest, unbroken record of self-government of any society in the world today, which includes the economic transformations that have taken place in the last 30 years.

Then Koppel led the conversation to 1969, Nixon, Soviet troops on China’s northern border at the time and the Vietnam War. Discover more of China’s motives during Mao’s time at The Lips Protecting China’s Teeth.

Later in the conversation, Koppel mentioned that Mao had attempted to contact the United States through American journalist Edgar Snow but was unsuccessful.

Kissinger replied, Mao did not want to deal with us through a communist channel. We did not want to deal with Edgar Snow.  At the time, there were (political) elements in both countries that believed that the relationship between the US and China would be irreconcilably hostile (impossible to overcome differences) and the challenge was to make contact without a public embarrassment of rejection for either side.

One caller asked, “Does it work against our best interests by pretending that leaders, like, in China represent the Chinese people?”

Kissinger replied, “The United States often deals with countries whose governments were not directly elected by the people.… I think we should tell China that we are, in principle, for self-determination of peoples.”

Continued on July 11, 2011 in Kissinger on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” – Part 3 or Return to Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 4/4

July 2, 2011

As for Bo Xilai, the so-called darling of the Maoists according to The Economist, the weekly rag failed to mention that last year when this Chinese “Maoist” splinter of the Communist Party thought they had a leader in Bo Xilai, he had thirty Maoist hard core leaders arrested and locked up. Source: Serve the People

Bo Xilai may be a leader among Chinese conservatives but those conservatives are not Maoist revolutionaries dreaming of a return to the upside down world of The Cultural Revolution, which would turn China into a train wreck, and most Chinese have worked too hard building a modern, capitalist China to throw all that away.

Maoists have followers as well as critics in modern China. While these supporters of Mao claim that it was during his era that China witnessed mass development in terms of economy, industry, healthcare, education, and Infrastructure, his critics (that have ruled China since 1976 leading to a middle class of about 400 million) hold a different view.

According to them, the history of Maoist China was marked with uncountable deaths, and an extreme economic crisis that damaged China’s cultural heritage.

What is the difference between the Maoists in China that are a minority in the Communist Party and the American Nazi Party in the US? Do we read pieces in the Western media criticizing the US for having an American Nazi party after what the Nazis did during World War II?

In fact, in 2006, NPR.org reported, “New schoolbooks were about to be introduced in Shanghai that were moving a bit further away from the traditional communist ideology. And in them Mao was actually only mentioned once, and very fleetingly, as part of a lesson on the custom of lowering flags to half mast at state funerals.”

In that interview at NPR, Louisa Lim said, “The official verdict on Mao that the Party came to in 1981 was that he was 70% good and 30% bad. And their mythology about Mao was really that he was a great national hero who unified the country. He sort of threw off the yoke of Japanese imperialism and freed people from poverty, and that any later mistakes were made when he was older and should be weighed up against his great contributions to China.”

If Bo Xilai sounds as if he wants to bring the Maoism of The Cultural Revolution back, he is probably doing what all “good” politicians do (even in the US), and that is telling people what they want to hear to gain support. After all, in 2012, China’s leaders are changing and Bo wants to get as close to the top as possible. That is not a secret.

Start with Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 1 or return to Part 3

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.