Monthly Archives: September 2009

China Lends Rare Art To Taiwan

First Time China Has Lent Rare Artifacts To Taiwan Since End Of Chinese Civil War In 1949

This exhibition will mark the first time Beijing has lent artifacts to Taipei

"Art Diplomacy" has the potential to increase cooperation between China and Taiwan

As ties between China and Taiwan have gradually become closer (particularly in the last year, following the election of Ma Ying-jeou), stories of cross-straits cooperation are becoming increasingly common. From China’s opening of direct flights to Taiwan to increased Taiwanese investment in the mainland (and vice versa) to today’s story about China sending 40 Qing Dynasty-era artifacts to Taipei’s National Palace Museum this October, cooperative gestures between Beijing and Taipei are something of a welcome sign.

Although simmering disputes remain between the two governments about thousands of artifacts taken to Taiwan as the Nationalist army made its retreat to the island in 1949 — which Beijing has sought to repatriate for decades — this exhibition is seen by many as a conciliatory step towards more direct talks on the future of the Chinese artifacts held in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. As the BBC writes,

About 650,000 paintings, bronzes, porcelain and jade from Beijing’s imperial collection were packed into crates to escape the Japanese army in the 1930s.

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Luxury China Travel Agent Unveils Shanghai Expo Packages

Mandarin Journeys’ 2010 World Expo Package To Target High-End Foreign Travelers During Shanghai’s “Coming Out Party”

The Shanghai World Expo is expected to attract upwards of 70 million visitors

The Shanghai World Expo is expected to attract upwards of 70 million visitors

Mandarin Journeys, a “Western-run, China based luxury tour operator,” has announced an innovative tour package for visitors to Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo, set to take place from May 1 to October 31 of next year. According to a press release, the luxury tours will be designed in association with some of the leading hotels of Shanghai:

Working with such exclusive properties as Langham, Hyatt, Portman Ritz-Carlton, PuLi and JW Marriott, Mandarin Journeys presents a comprehensive selection of Expo tour packages targeted at a worldwide discerning client base.

Based in China and operated by former tour managers and long-term Western expatriates the company caters to independent travelers from Europe, the United States and Australia. Our destinations include China & Tibet, Japan, Central Asia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

 

Mainland Shoppers Set To Flock To HK For Golden Week

1.8 Million Tourists And Shoppers Made The Trip Last Year; Will This Year See Similar Figures?

Photo Courtesy Hong Kong Tourism Board

Photo Courtesy Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong retailers, hoteliers and merchants of all shapes and sizes are getting ready for the second of two “Golden Weeks” which take place annually in China — the first celebrating Chinese New Year and the second beginning on National Day (Oct. 1) and continuing through the Mid-Autumn Festival (Oct. 3) until finally ending on the 8th. For Hong Kong’s luxury retailers, Golden Week has traditionally provided a much-needed boost to their sales, particularly as fall begins and the flow of foreign tourists slows down significantly.

For many mainlanders, however, Golden Week is a chance to hop over the border and do some serious shopping. As Hong Kong retailers aren’t saddled with the same high sales and luxury taxes as those in the mainland, shoppers from throughout China often take advantage of the timing of Golden Week to enjoy the cultural ambiance of Hong Kong while stocking up on expensive products that would — at home — cost up to double the price.

Today, the New York Times Globespotters blog gives a glimpse into the fun (and chaos) of Golden Week in Hong Kong, when millions of shoppers (many of whom have saved up throughout the year for their HK shopping spree) converge on this small but densely-packed city to queue up for hours and open their wallets:

European designer emporiums, jewelers and gold shops will all be packed, as mainland Chinese rush to buy goods that are both cheaper, and more likely authentic, than back home. (Unlike China, Hong Kong has no sales or luxury taxes.) For upscale shopping, avoid the crowds by trying department stores like Lane Crawford instead.

As far as the local government is concerned, you can’t have too many festivals. During this hectic period, there is also the Hong Kong International Arts and Antiques Fair from Oct. 3 to 6, and the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival from Oct. 1 to 15. Jazz and antiques aren’t big Chinese tourist draws, so they might be another way to escape from the maddening crowds.

In addition to these festivals and events, this year’s Golden Week will also coincide with Sotheby’s Autumn Auction of Contemporary Chinese and Asian Artwork, taking place on October 6 in Hong Kong. It’ll be a great opportunity for luxury buyers who have come over from the mainland to bid on some domestic contemporary artists and maybe take home a few Yue Minjuns, Zeng Fanzhis or Cai Guo-Qiangs in addition to the boatloads of Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Rolexes they’re going to tote back over the border.

World Gold Council Planning Huge Sales Push In Rural China

Council Hoping Government Stimulus Measures Will Spur Consumption In Notoriously Frugal Rural Areas

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

Shanghai Daily reports today that the World Gold Council has started a major sales drive in rural China, banking on indications that the country’s second- and third-tier cities have more sales potential than their first-tier counterparts in terms of gold consumption. This sales push follows similar drives by antiques, visual artsshopping center and luxury car companies to attract customers in China’s interior — where any semblance of “luxury fatigue” has yet to sink in and the middle class is seeing gradual growth.

As one of China’s traditional hedges, the World Gold Council is banking on gold’s allure to buyers in remote areas both for its value as well as its cultural resonance.

“Rural areas showed better-than-expected demand for gold in the first half in China,” said Gerry Chen, business development manager China of World Gold Council.

China is the only country in the world where gold jewelry demand has risen in the aftermath of the world financial crisis, the council said. Sales in China’s mainland rose 9 percent in the first half, while global demand contracted 8 percent.

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“Art Colonies” Springing Up All Over China

Songzhuang Cultural And Arts Festival, Taking Place From September 20 To October 12, Showcases Artwork From Artistic Districts Around The Country

This year's Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival follows the success of last year's exhibitions

This year's Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival follows the success of last year's exhibitions

Although many art enthusiasts are familiar with Beijing’s larger and more established art districts, such as Dashanzi (大山子) and Caochangdi (草场地), one of the Chinese art world’s best-kept secrets is that the country is home to a number of smaller, more exclusive art communities. Running until October 12, the Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival looks to showcase the work of artists from these art colonies — both large and small — and give art lovers a glimpse into the wide range of artwork currently being produced throughout China. Titled “Community! Community!” this festival puts a strong emphasis on the work of artists in distinctly non-mainstream art communities in ten art “zones”:

Artists from ten different art zones in Nanjing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Wuhan and Changsha. were invited to display their artworks. Each art district has a separate location at the festival, featuring recently created artworks by artists representing each community.

Thirteen large-scale art museums and galleries, such as the Songzhuang Art Museum, Sunshine International Art Museum, and the LDX Contemporary Art Center, provide exciting exhibits.

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Luxury Watch Brand Richard Mille Opens Flagship Store In Beijing

Watchmaking Iconoclast’s New Location At Jin Bao Street’s Legendale Hotel Features Decor And Accents Shipped From Paris

Richard Mille's flagship store in Beijing brings an air of bygone Europe to Beijing's Jin Bao Street

Richard Mille's flagship store in Beijing brings an air of bygone Europe to Beijing's Jin Bao Street

Richard Mille, the French luxury watch brand,has just opened a flagship store in Beijing’s five-star Legendale Hotel, according to a company press release. Mille’s fixation with high-tech materials and unique alloys inspired by F-1 motorsport and the aerospace industry, has made him one of the most unusual — and fastest-rising — luxury watch forces in the world, and with the flood of spending we’ve seen in China on luxury goods like watches, cars, wine, jewelry and contemporary art, Beijing’s flagship Mille store should attract the city’s free-spending elite in no time.

[T]he flagship occupies 260 square meters of space at this platinum 5-star hotel that represents European elegance and luxury in the heart of this capital of the People’s Republic of China. With such a prime address and grand interiors, Sparkle Roll Group Limited, the exclusive dealer of Richard Mille in PRC, invested HK$45 million in building this flagship in Beijing.

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China Now World’s Fastest-Growing Diamond Market

Country Should Overtake Japan As Second Largest Diamond Market By Sales Volume Within The Year

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Falling demand for luxury products of all shades has vaulted China to the top of many lists this year, as demand in developed markets has fallen for everything from luxury cars to five-star hotels. With China’s massive population and growing middle class, even gradual growth in demand can mean a great deal for luxury brands, so diamond producers can continue to be optimistic about the potential for their products in China — soon to be the world’s second largest diamond market by sales, if the projections of Freddy Hanard, chief executive officer of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, are correct.

As the Financial Times writes today, Hanard predicts that diamond sales in China should continue the double-digit growth they saw in the first half of the year to continue throughout the second, and says that sales could possibly double in 2010. As the thirst for luxury products continues to spread in China’s second- and third-tier cities, and wealthier Chinese maintain their desire to diversify luxury and high-value holdings — something that we have seen in recent years as they’ve increasingly purchased luxury cars, gold, rare watches and jewelry, fine wine, contemporary art from China and elsewhere, and real estate — diamonds will probably remain strongly in demand according to all indications.

“China is the world’s fastest growing diamond market. And it can go very fast. It is still discovering diamonds,” said Mr Hanard.

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