October 6, 2013

Yes, they have Ikea in China, but it "is gripped by a kind of anarchy that would rarely be seen, or tolerated, in its country of origin."

"There are picnickers everywhere - their tea flasks and plastic bags of snacks lining the showroom tables."
Young lovers pose for "selfies" in mock-up apartments they do not live in. Toddlers in split pants play on model furniture with their naked parts coming in contact with all surfaces.

On a king-size bed in the middle of the largest showroom, a little boy wakes from a nap next to his (also sleeping) grandmother. When the old woman casually helps the boy urinate into an empty water bottle, dripping liquid liberally on the grey mattress under his feet, most passers-by seem not to mind or even notice....

Virtually every surface [in the bedroom and living room sections] is occupied by visitors appearing very much at home. Older people read newspapers or drink tea; younger visitors cuddle or play with their phones. Most, however, are sound asleep...
Read the whole thing. Ikea has accommodated Chinese ways, and it's now the largest foreign commercial landowner in the country.

22 comments:

Moose said...

Sigh - now its the ugly Chinese, rather than the ugly American.
Gotta love it.

Scott said...

Ikea stuff is either the best or the worst.

I used an Odensvik double sink on a Godmorgon vanity for the bathroom in a house I am almost finished rehabbing. (It's listed on the MLS at $210,000: 225 Prospect Ave., Dunellen NJ 08812. Mention "Althouse" for a 2.5% discount off list.) :-) It has special plumbing so that the drains can clear the drawers -- and the plumber couldn't figure it out. Fortunately, there are YouTube videos on how to install the damn things, and I ended up doing it myself. Apparently it takes a college education.

I'm not sure what Ikea is thinking when they buy their store sites in China. Their stores in the United States are franchises, so they probably don't own much property in this country.

St. George said...
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St. George said...

The Chinese government just two days ago published a 64-page booklet for outbound tourists advising them not to do things like pick their noses in public and steal life vests.

Chinese tourists are incredibly high spending. I don't have the link at hand, but they accounted for more than 50 percent of luxury good sales in Europe last year. On a per capita basis, they spend more than tourists from any other country, except one nation, in the U.S. (or NYC).

The number of Chinese tourists to the US is expected to triple from about one million this year to three million by 2016.

Scott said...

Do the stats differentiate the Hong Kong Chinese from those on the mainland?

elkh1 said...

"it's now the largest foreign commercial landowner in the country."

Easier for the Party to turn on them and make them the villain causing all the ills of society, sort of like Wal-Mart in their previous life.

Interesting HK$7.5 billion = US$1 billion, 15 million visitors, average US$66.7/visitor.

"almost all 660 seats in the canteen are occupied. Yet the lines to the cashiers are refreshingly short - most are not here to shop."

Love the refreshingly short lines to the cashiers.

elkh1 said...

Scott said...
Do the stats differentiate the Hong Kong Chinese from those on the mainland?

Yes, Ikea was in Hong Kong eons before they set foot in the US.

Hong Kong Chinese are British trained, they behave more like Brits in things like queuing up at bus stops, in going to public rest rooms. They were horrified when a Chinese mother let her son defecate in the sink and let the poo stay in the sink for someone else to clean.

MayBee said...

Hong Kong people do not enjoy the mainland people, but they are told to grin and bear it for the economy.

madAsHell said...

I'll never forget watching the parents un-snap the pants at the crotch, and then the little boy pooped in the middle of Tiananmen Square.

To their credit, they picked up the mess as well.

cubanbob said...

St. George said...
The Chinese government just two days ago published a 64-page booklet for outbound tourists advising them not to do things like pick their noses in public and steal life vests.

Chinese tourists are incredibly high spending. I don't have the link at hand, but they accounted for more than 50 percent of luxury good sales in Europe last year. On a per capita basis, they spend more than tourists from any other country, except one nation, in the U.S. (or NYC).

The number of Chinese tourists to the US is expected to triple from about one million this year to three million by 2016.

10/6/13, 2:05 PM

You can't even begin to imagine the amount they spend on luxury goods. You should see them arriving at the high end malls in HK to shop at the expensive stores. Waiting their turn in line to spends thousands of dollars. Buyers, not lookers. The same high end stores also have locations in the mainland and do a hell of a lot of business but a lot of the mainlanders prefer to take the high speed train to HK to save the sales tax. If not for the Chinese a lot of the high end European brands would be out of business.

Gabriel Hanna said...

HK Chinese frequently compare mainland Chinese to locusts.

My little boy has some open-bottom pants, a gift from cousins in the country. By the time he's old enough to use them, he's too big for them. If we had our own yard I'd be tempted.

There are many things to love about China, and many things to hate. They do assume that public spaces are disgustingly filthy and they act accordingly.

Dale Light said...

I am married to a Chinese woman, born and raised in Malaysia, another part of the British global zone of occupation. We have traveled extensively in China and everywhere we go outside HK she finds the behavior of the Chinese people absolutely appalling. I, being a slovenly American, am less upset [I remember my college years far too well]. The Anglocentric upbringing does make a difference.

Sam L. said...

I expect the money coming in allows IKEA to spend more on its janitorial staff.

Sam L. said...

Oh, yes. All cultures are equally valid. I heard that somewhere.

CatherineM said...

Sounds like the low-class Chinese in NY. Spitting their seed shells and other refuse on the subway floor, liberally hocking phlegm into the floor and sidewalk and everywhere their garbage dump, We were just talking the other day about the difference from the poor mainlanders we get on the M train from middle class HK and Taiwanese we work with. Very different.

Also a big similarity between mainland Chinese and Russians? Cheating on everything. Big problem at Baruch when I took some summer electives. I hear it's a problem at St. John's and I suspect every school it's easy to commute to in NYC. I think it's a communist thing. Always looking to game the system.

Kelly said...

In my city we have the largest Bermese population outside of Burma. They spit their betel nut juice that leaves red stains on the floor Fed up, a laundry many of them patronize posted a sign saying Bermese were no longer welcome. Apparently locals don't like spit on the floor while doing their laundry. Of course a stink was raised and a civil rights investigation bagan. . The owner had to apologize to the people trashing his property and the employees had to go through sensitivity training.

Scott said...

My original question related to this statement:

"The number of Chinese tourists to the US is expected to triple from about one million this year to three million by 2016."

Are the stats you quote differentiating the mainland Chinese from the residents of Hong Kong? Too often statistics relating to "China" lump the two together, which tends to make the mainland people look better off than they really are.

Douglas said...

I've been to the Ikea in Shenzhen, China many times and it is (especially on the weekends) filled with families and young couples for whom Ikea is aspirational. They not only shop like crazy (and they love the Ikea restaurant with its Swedish meatballs), but they take pictures of themselves in the various settings, etc. I've never seen any really gross behavior like that described in the article that Prof. Althouse links, but that might be because Shenzhen is the richest city in China and the middle class here has been middle class for longer than elsewhere.

St. George said...
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ErnieG said...

I have a love-hate relationship with Ikea. My favorite kitchen utensils include a set of Ikea's hemispherical stainless steel bowls. If I want to buy, say, a ream of copy paper from Office Depot, or a screwdriver from Lowe's, I can just pop in, make my purchase, and leave. If I want another bowl from Ikea, I have to walk all through their store like a rat in a maze. Even with their so-called shortcuts It's a chore. I'm just going to stay with the one large bowl for now.

ErnieG said...

Ikea Rant, Part 2.

Their office equipment, such as file drawers and cabinets, are made for European paper sizes. 8-1/2 X 11? Fuggetaboutit. They have some classy picture frames, too, but the mats and frames are all metric. Forget about 8 X 10, 6 X 4, or 11 X 14.

Peter said...

Well, there's Ikea and there's China.

Tourists and immigrants are usually subject to the "when in Rome dictum." Except in the USA, where we're supposed to be so tolerant that we can't ask anyone to conform to norms of public behavior.

So, Chinese (and some other peoples, I hear) regard public spaces as public in the sense of "no one can tell me what to do/not do here." But doesn't our refusal to enforce any cultural norms of behavior cause us to move ever closer to this in the USA?

And how long will it be before we, too, give up on forming queues, and speaking turn or when recognized at public meetings? Are there any standards of public behavior that we're actually willing to maintain by demanding compliance, and speaking out in public when they're violated?

As for Ikea, it remains a puzzle as to why they make it so difficult to actually buy something. Is there any reason why small appliances and housewares can't be ordered online? Why, exactly, do they refuse to deliver large pieces (the way every other furniture store does)- even for customers willing to pay extra for the service?

Why do they go out of their way to make it difficult to buy things from them?

(And yes, I know it's possible to order Ikea stuff from 3rd parties on Amazon- apparently some entrepreneurs have filled the hole that Ikea will not fill. But why not from Ikea's own website? And why can't I tell an Ikea salesperson on the sales floor, "I want that, delivered" and pay for it on the spot- instead of waiting in a huge line and then figuring out how to get it home? Why does shopping at Ikea have to be an expedition?)