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The rich in China changing their lifestyle, seeking simplicity


In an apartment in southern Beijing, Duan Yan takes out all her clothes and accessories to sort out what she really needs and put the rest away in a box. Duan Yan, a 32-year-old office clerk, has had enough of her messy home space, and she tries to cut down her personal belongings and shopping items in order to live a more simple and well-organized life.
在北京南部一间公寓里,段言从衣柜里拿出所有的衣服和配饰,逐个检查,她想找到真正需要的东西,其它的放进一个纸箱里。这位32岁的办公室文员受够了她拥挤凌乱的家,试图减少个人物品、削减购物,追求更简单有序的生活。"I used to spend several thousand on buying new clothes, shoes and bags. But to be honest, it's a temporary enjoyment to possess them while the trouble of gathering and preserving will last long. That is why I decided to make a change", said Duan Yan.

In recent years, Chinese wealthy consumers have shown their great purchasing power. However, some people like Duan Yan who are a part of the middle class begin to pursue minimalism and giving a second thought on what they need in life.

Zhu Rui, a scholar from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, points out that most wealthy Chinese have experienced the period of material scarcity, and nowadays they tend to take personal property as a symbol of status, indicating they are living rich these days. "However, when they realize what they have is actually a burden which can't really represent their tastes, some of them begin to have different attitudes towards their lifestyle," she said.

On one of the most popular social websites in China, Douban.com, many forum chats appear discussing minimalist life in the past few years, providing a space for people who seek a simple lifestyle to gather.

Wang Zhe, a founder of these groups and a HRMP in Shanghai, claims that he was once a shopaholic amassing clothes and books. He once owned 420 pieces of clothing and a wall of books.

Wang Zhe cut down his personal belongings to less than 75 pieces after a few years' effort. Now he has fewer clothes but better quality of life.

This kind of new lifestyle saves Wang Zhe's plenty of time and money, but most of his friends and colleagues cannot understand his decision.

Because of the lifestyle he chooses, Wang Zhe felt lonely. That's when he decided to create a discussing group on Douban, allowing people to share their ideas on minimalism and upload the list of their abandoned belongings.
王喆因他选择的生活方式而感到寂寞,于是在豆瓣网上建立了一个讨论小组,让人们分享关于极简主义的想法,并上传扔掉的物品的清单。"Giving up belongings is the first step to a minimalist lifestyle. The ultimate goal is to do more meaningful things when you get more time and money." Now he Wang Zhe takes his spare time to travel and read e-books."扔掉无用的东西只是极简主义生活方式的第一步。最终目标是,当你有了更多的时间和金钱,要找到更多有意义的事情去做。" 对于王喆,他用多余的时间旅行,并阅读电子书。

In 2013, だんしゃり (Danjori ) by the Japanese writer Yamashita Hideko was introduced to China mainland. This book emphasized the importance of daily organization and detachment. It has aroused interest among readers of the middle class and inspired their passion for the minimalist lifestyle.

Duan Yan also became a fan of だんしゃり. She began to sell her clothes and bags, and quit many chat groups on WeChat.
段言也是"断舍离"的爱好者。她不仅开始卖衣服和包,还退出了微信的一些聊天群。"We are bombarded by too much information every day, and always worry we will miss something if we don't check our feed immediately. This is exactly the same situation as keeping too many useless things at home.""我们每天获得太多信息,总担心如果漏看了信息会错过什么。这和在家里储存太多无用的东西是一样的。"

Zhu Rui thinks that some wealthy Chinese are suffering from "excessive consumption", and they spend too much money on the expensive things they don't really need. "However, I believe as people become more mature and think more about their lifestyle and excessive consumption, a tendency where they realize the advantages of simple life will appear" she said.


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