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What crisis? China’s American dream lives on

Guess who will grab US homes in this year of crisis? Rich Chinese parents, who blame the economic crisis on the reckless spending of Americans, are swooping in on houses now going cheap from New York to Los Angeles, reports Reshma Patil.

world Updated: Feb 05, 2009 23:20 IST
Reshma Patil

Guess who will grab US homes in this year of crisis? Rich Chinese parents, who blame the economic crisis on the reckless spending of Americans, are swooping in on houses now going cheap from New York to Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

A recent nugget in a government-run newspaper mentioned that over 300 Chinese have registered for home-shopping US tours.

Most of these ‘tourists’ will be parents ready to spend years of careful savings — four to seven lakh US dollars — to buy homes for their children studying or planning to study in the US.

In Beijing, the class of 2009 graduating this summer grew up being told they were the lucky generation who would enter a vibrant job market, thanks to the Olympics.

The opposite happened.

The six million-strong class of 2009 will compete for jobs with 1.5 million still unemployed graduates of 2008, plus thousands of Chinese now returning from the US. These graduates face bleaker prospects than the 20 million out-of-work factory hands who are the focus of local government employment plans.

But private classes for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are still drawing students in their late twenties to 40-plus, though they may not find jobs in the US.

The costliest private GMAT class in Beijing charges 1,000 yuan (about Rs 7,000) for one hour of personalised tuition.

This correspondent asked two such aspirants and fans of US President Barack Obama — a 22-year-old English major student and another exactly 10 years older working in international trade — to describe their American dreams.

Their earnest answers reflected how keenly the young Chinese compare life and opportunities in the two radically different countries.

In the words of Zhao Jiaxi, 22: “My main reason to study in the US is America’s high quality of cultivating people”. His parents will pay his tuition fees and he is unsure about returning to China.

The professional who only gave his family name Fu, dreams of Columbia University. “Especially in Beijing, an MBA from the top US universities is the key to brilliance. It can get you whatever you want,” said Fu, who studies for the GMAT everyday after work and watches Bond movies to improve his English.

In December, the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said that 81,127 Chinese students were enrolled in US universities in 2007-08. It was an increase from 19.8 per cent the previous year.