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By
AFP
Published
Mar 7, 2012
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China delegates' designer gear angers web users

By
AFP
Published
Mar 7, 2012

BEIJING - The annual gathering of China's parliament is traditionally a chance for delegates to show off their finery, but this year some have found their designer gear under scrutiny from a web-savvy public.


Yang Lan was criticised for her taste in handbags (AFP/Getty Images/File, Jemal Countess)

Images on China's weibos -- popular microblogs similar to Twitter -- of delegates in expensive branded clothes have created a storm of criticism in a country where millions still live on less than $1 a day.

"Can those delegates really represent the people -- has our country really become rich?" posted one user next to a photograph of Li Xiaolin -- daughter of former premier Li Peng -- in a pink Pucci suit said to cost nearly $2,000.

"Is this a People's Congress meeting or a luxury brand meeting?"

Li is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body that meets alongside the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, and includes television stars and wealthy entrepreneurs.

Another accused CPPCC delegates of hypocrisy for parading their "branded clothes and bags worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of yuan" in front of the Great Hall of the People in the capital.

Yang Lan, a well-known talk-show host and businesswoman nicknamed China's Oprah Winfrey, was snapped carrying a Marc Jacobs handbag, attracting criticism both for extravagance and for being behind the times -- the bag, apparently, was several seasons old.

"Are these representatives of two meetings, or elites showing off their wealth?" posted one user of Sina's weibo, using the popular name for the NPC and CPPCC gatherings being held in Beijing this week.

"Who will safeguard the rights and benefits of the poor?"

China's government is struggling to maintain what it calls a "harmonious" society amid an unprecedented economic boom that has brought huge income disparities and rampant corruption.

On Monday, China's Premier Wen Jiabao promised to focus on raising the incomes of ordinary people as he opened this year's NPC session with a speech laying out the government's priorities for the year.

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