Changing Nature of 'Face'


27y old Linda is well educated, articulate and suave - the face of new China. With a masters degree from the US she came to Beijing all by herself and now has a fast track career in a multinational consulting firm. As you get to know her you realize Linda comes from a seriously wealthy family from Ji Nan in Shandong province with no real need to move 2000 kms away from home and build her own life. She reflects, 'just a generation ago, girls like me would be just happy to enjoy their privileged background and marry into another rich family approved by their parents. Life would be one long shopping trip.' Then she hastens to add 'even if you are beautiful, wear the most fashionable dresses but having nothing in your brain, you will be seen as a flowery blockhead. I always wanted to prove that I am not only beautiful but intelligent and capable'.

Then there is Wang Yu, a 31y old man from a small town in Southern China. He came to Shanghai with very little in his pocket to get a slice of the Shanghai dream. Nearly 10 years of hard work and diligence has seen him climb to the post of department manager at a joint venture company. Today he says with a hint of pride in his voice 'I come from an average family and both my parents are workers. This meant I could only rely on myself. I went to a good university thanks to my grades and found a good job by my own efforts. Don't judge me by my family background. People should judge me for what I have achieved through my knowledge & skills'. Two very different lives in the new China. Linda used her privileged background as an opportunity to build her character to earn 'face' while Wang overcame his tough background and earned 'face' by building his character and climbing the corporate ladder.

Bates 141 China in partnership with Sina.com, Nielsen Online & Hylink Advertising recently undertook a nationwide online survey to understand the age old value of 'face' in the new changing China. Even as China modernizes and embraces new values, 'face' is a value Chinese people still hold dear to their hearts - Nearly 80% of the respondents feel 'face' is worth pursuing.


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Sourav Ray
National Planning Director, Bates 141 China
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