Writing in the Asia Times (November 28), Frank Chen claimed that China's National Statistics Bureau was cited by China's State Council at a press conference marking China's 71st anniversary in October, that China now has no less than 400 million middle-class consumers. It claimed that working residents in Shanghai earned 54,126 yuan (US$8,236) on average in the first nine months, up roughly 5% year-on-year. Beijing’s corresponding figure was 51,772 yuan ($7,868).  A quarterly salary survey conducted by Zhilian, China’s largest jobs and employment consultancy, stated that working residents in Beijing made 11,623 yuan ($1,766) a month between June and September. It pegged Shanghai’s figure at 11,226 yuan ($1,706).  NSB median income data for the first nine months of this year showed that the middle class in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and other second-tier cities is making far less than formerly estimated. Those in Beijing make the highest amount, 6,906 yuan ($1,050) per month, followed by Shanghai’s 6,378 yuan ($969) and Shenzhen’s 5,199 yuan ($790). NSB data, however, also revealed that in the first three-quarters of this year the median income for the nation’s entire working class stood at 20,512 yuan ($3,117), or 2,279 yuan ($346) per month, 15% lower than the per capita average figure announced earlier by the bureau.  The new median income figures corroborate Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s surprise revelation at a National People’s Congress press conference in May that 600 million Chinese, or nearly half of the world’s second-largest economy’s population, were living a hand-to-mouth existence with a monthly income of 1,000 yuan ($152). “You cannot even rent a home in any big cities with just 1,000 yuan,” the Premier said at the televised question-and-answer event at the time.  

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