Displaying a heady mix of sex, power and economics, the internet has been awash with articles about wealthy Chinese men and their predilection for keeping mistresses, with the cream of the crop being written by James Palmer for Aeon Magazine. Mistresses are a key indicator of power and prestige for Chinese men, with women frequently being presented with luxury apartments from their moneyed lovers. This is happening on such a scale that it is believed to be driving up property prices in certain areas.
Adultery has always been around and has often been associated with luxury, with well-heeled courtesans milking wealthy suitors for riches. How have these glamorous bits on the side became so common that they are impacting the economics of the world’s most populous country?
Turning to history, it is easy to see that countless notable events have been highly influenced by the personal life of rulers and their women. The fall of Troy is just one example showing the tight connection between the personal life of officials and political and economic stability.
According to Palmer ‘mistress-keeping’ is not just a random act of following sexual mores but often a matter of prestige for officials. Some girls manage to get everything, starting from an apartment and ending with a self-owned business, while others end up losing the best years of their lives. A mistress in Palmer’s article says: “If you’re an official, you have to have a mistress, or at least a girlfriend.”
No matter what the outcome for these women, the purchasing of multiple apartments, especially in Beijing, is leading to ever- increasing property prices, while the salaries for ordinary people stay the same or rise much slower. It is believed there are now entire neighborhoods filling up with young women living in expensive apartments paid for by their wealthy married (though not to them) lovers.
Housing price rises have been evident for sometime, and the future is uncertain. While the wealthy and powerful are no doubt having fun, the bubble must eventually burst, with nobody knowing the precise consequences a crash will have on an unsettled economy.
Image courtesy by magme.cn