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China’s rich rush to learn Western manners to raise profile

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Five Chinese women are sitting upright in their chairs, designer handbags at their heels, listening attentively to a trendy Chinese Tatler magazine photographer describe how to pose in public. He is talking makeup, light and cheekbones. The room is decorated with Pierre Frey wallpaper and the participants sip tea out of a Bernardaud tea set. Notepad in hand, they are learning the dos and don’ts of camera etiquette.

5位中国女士端坐在椅子上,脚旁放着设计师手袋。她们在聚精会神地聆听《尚流Tatler》杂志的一位时尚摄影师传授在公开场合摆姿势的方式。他正在谈论化妆、灯光和颧骨。房间里贴着Pierre Frey壁纸,学员们喝茶时使用的都是柏图出品的精美茶具。她们都手拿笔记本,认真学习镜头前的各种礼仪规范。

 

The course entitled "How to pose elegantly in front of the camera" is one of many offered by Institute Sarita, a modern-day version of European finishing schools that caters to Chinese nouveaux riche. Other courses offered by the school, located in the trendy Sanlitun district of Beijing, include how to raise children, proper table manners and luxury brand pronunciation.  

这堂名为"如何在镜头前摆出优雅姿势"的课程是瑞雅礼仪学院(Institute Sarita)提供的诸多课程之一。这所学院是现代版的欧洲女子精修学校,它的诞生迎合了中国新富阶层的需求。这家位于北京三里屯的学院还提供其他课程,包括如何养育子女、得体的餐桌礼仪和奢侈品品牌的发音。

 

"Most of my clients had an embarrassing moment, overseas or during a business dinner. They come here because they want to make thing easier for themselves," said Sara-Jane Ho, the perfectly groomed school founder, as she sat in a drawing room furnished with imported French antique furniture.

"我的多数客户都在海外或商务晚宴上有过令人尴尬的经历。他们之所以来到这里,是希望能在这些场合更加从容,"瑞雅礼仪学院创始人何佩嵘(Sara-Jane Ho)说。她接受采访时的穿着非常干练,会客厅里摆满法国进口的古典家具。

 

"It’s mostly learning about how to behave in an international environment," said Ho, who herself studied etiquette at the Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Switzerland, one of the last proper finishing schools in the world. So far she has attracted a couple hundred wealthy Chinese to her courses. She is opening a Shanghai branch in May.

"主要是学习在国际环境中的行为举止,"何佩嵘说。她本人曾经在瑞士IVP学院(皮埃尔弗别墅学院,Institut Villa Pierrefeu)进修过礼仪。IVP是全世界仅剩的几所正宗的精修学校之一。到目前为止,她已经吸引了数百名中国富豪参加自己的课程,5月份还在上海开设了分校。

 

With 190 billionaires and more than two million millionaires, China tags just behind the US in number of high-net-worth individuals, according to research from Forbes magazine and Boston Consulting Group.

根据《福布斯》杂志(Forbes)和波士顿咨询公司(Boston Consulting Group)的研究,中国有190名亿万富豪和200多万名百万富豪,高净值人群数量仅次于美国,位居全球第二。

 

Many of these fortunes have grown rapidly, in lock-step with China’s newly expanding economy and multiplying business opportunities. Some who find themselves newly wealthy have little knowledge or training in how to behave in international business or social events.

得益于中国高速增长的经济和成倍增加的商业机会,这些富豪的资产实现了迅猛增长。但一些新富阶层却发现,虽然他们拥有巨额财富,但却并不了解国际商务或社交活动中的礼仪规范。

 

"The country was so isolated 30 years ago," said Ho. "The spike in wealth has happened in a compressed time. This transformation has created a lot of pressure on individuals."

"30年前,中国还与世隔绝,"何佩嵘说,"财富在短时间内迅速积累,这种重大转变给个人带来了巨大压力。"

 

As a result, some businesspeople may appear uncouth and blunt to their western or Asian counterparts. Finesse, on the other hand, can smooth many business transactions. "Simply knowing how to be comfortable with a knife and fork can be a deal clincher," said James Hebbert, who represents Seatton, a British etiquette school in China.

因此,与西方或亚洲其他国家相比,中国商人显得有些笨拙和迟钝。另一方面,恰当的礼仪也对很多商业交易大有裨益。"光是知道如何恰当地使用刀叉就有助于达成交易。"詹姆斯·赫伯特(James Hebbert)说,他任职于Seatton,这是一家在中国设立的英式礼仪学校。

 

满足小众需求

Filling a niche

 

Clients who attend etiquette courses in China include government officials, children enrolled in overseas schools, wives looking to entertain important guests and those who enjoy travelling abroad.

在中国,礼仪课程的客户包括政府官员、留学生、准备招待贵宾的富豪妻子以及喜欢到国外旅游的人。

 

"There is a huge demand all along the spectrum," said Hebbert, whose clients were first primarily drivers of Rolls Royces wanting to dress the part, then evolved to middle-class customers in search of a British-lifestyle experience. "In just a few years, I have seen a real shift in clientele. More and more Chinese are travelling. They see the advantage of having an international edge."

"各个阶层都存在巨大需求,"赫伯特说。他的客户最初是希望学会衣着得体的开劳斯莱斯的人,后来扩展到一些渴望了解英式生活方式的中产阶级。"短短几年间,我们的客户群已经发生了重大转变。越来越多的中国人出国旅游,他们看到了拥有国际竞争力所蕴含的优势。"

 

If learning how to peel an orange with a knife and fork may seem slightly superfluous in Europe, in China the newly rich are ready to pay what it takes to acquire the manners that come with their new status.

在欧洲,学习如何用刀叉剥桔子或许显得有些多余,但在中国,新富阶层们却准备好了为此支付费用,以便掌握各种可以与自己新的社会地位相匹配的礼仪。

 

"The next time I visit Milan and dine in a nice restaurant I can confidently tell my husband he shouldn’t hold his knife like a dagger," said a participant of a two-hour Western dining etiquette course with James Hebbert in Shanghai, who didn't want her name used.

"下次我去米兰的高级餐厅吃饭时,就能自信地告诉我的丈夫,不应该像拿着匕首一样使用餐刀。"一位学员说道,她在上海参加了詹姆斯·赫伯特提供的2小时西餐礼仪课程,但她并不愿意公开自己的姓名。

 

Hebbert charges 20,000 yuan ($3,243) per group of 10 for an afternoon session.

赫伯特的下午课程每次有10名学员,共收费2万元人民币。

 

Institute Sarita’s most popular course, "Hostessing", costs 100,000 yuan ($16,216) for 12 days in which the client learns skills ranging from engaging in small talk to pairing wines with a meal.

瑞雅礼仪学院最热门的是"女主人课程",收费是10万元人民币。在12天的时间内,学员们将学到包括寒暄方式和酒肉搭配在内的各种技巧。

 

Lack of manners

不懂礼貌

 

Media and even the Chinese president have been critical of how some Chinese travellers have behaved on trips. On a September trip to the Maldives, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested Chinese citizens be "a bit more civilised when travelling abroad."

媒体对一些中国游客在海外旅游时的行为举止展开了批评,甚至连中国国家主席也曾批评过此事。在去年9月访问马尔代夫时,习近平主席就曾建议中国公民到海外旅游时应当文明出行。

 

With more than 100 million Chinese travelling in 2014, misbehaviours have grabbed headlines worldwide. Among the most extreme: defacing an Egyptian sculpture, throwing boiling water on a flight attendant and urinating outside.

2014年有1亿中国人出国旅游,而中国游客的不文明行为也登上了世界各地的媒体头条,其中最为极端的例子包括在埃及文物上刻字、向空乘人员泼洒开水和随地小便。

 

In October, China’s National Tourism Administration issued strict guidelines on how to behave while travelling. In a 64-page booklet, Chinese tourists are warned against peeing in swimming pools, stealing life jackets from planes and leaving footprints on the toilet seat. Punishments for such behaviours include fining tour operators and blacklisting rude tourists.

去年10月,中国国家旅游局针对中国游客在海外的行为举止出台了严格的指导规范。这本64页的手册警告中国游客不要在泳池内小便,不要拿走飞机上的救生衣,不要在马桶座圈上留下脚印。倘若出现违规行为,不仅旅行社有可能受到惩罚,行为粗鲁的旅客也有可能被列入黑名单。

 

What can seem to an outsider as impolite today — such as pushing, queue barging, speaking loudly or picking your nose in public — is common behaviour for the majority of Chinese. But as China opens up and engages with the world awareness is growing among the population on how they are being perceived overseas.

推挤、插队、大声喧哗和在公共场合挖鼻孔这些如今被很多外国人视作不礼貌的行为,在多数中国人看来已是司空见惯。但随着中国逐步开放,与世界的接触日益频繁,中国人也越来越重视自己在海外给人留下的印象。

 

A new face

新形象

 

To disassociate themselves from this reputation, many of the new elite are seeking refinement at etiquette schools. At the same time, they are looking to good manners as a new form of status symbol.

为了不再给外人留下这样的印象,很多新精英阶层开始到礼仪学校进修。与此同时,他们还把良好的礼仪视作新的身份象征。

 

"[The Chinese] understand that their position as the most powerful country in the world puts them in a situation where they need to learn about other cultures and behaviours so as to smoothen political and business relationships," said Viviane Neri, principal of Institut Villa Pierrefeu, in an email.

"中国人明白,由于他们的祖国已经成为全世界最强大的国家,所以他们也必须了解其他的文化和习俗,以此促进政治和商务关系。"皮埃尔弗别墅学院院长薇薇安·内利(Viviane Neri)在电子邮件中说道。

 

"Before, it was about owning a big car," said Hebbert. "Now the rich are looking for something else to make the difference."

"以前,富人们都争相购买豪车,"赫伯特说,"现在,他们则希望通过其他方式来彰显身份。"

2016-06-24

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