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Chinese purchase "cheap" goods with dollars
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13:01, February 20, 2008

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On February 14, after China Eastern Airlines' flight from New York landed at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, people swarmed off the plane, all carrying shopping bags. Miss Yang, who took advantage of Spring Festival to travel to the United States, said, "I bought a digital camera, an iPod, designer bags, clothes and shoes. The dollar fell and buying things has become so cost-effective."

Miss Yang is only one of the many infected by the "Buy-in-America" craze now on the rise. With the weak dollar and the rise of the RMB, prices in the United States are much lower than in China. Not only are tourists physically shopping, but they are also shopping online with US dollars.

During Spring Festival, on Madison Avenue in New York, the crowd was surging, and there was no room for your feet. Traffic police were dispatched to force the crowd, at a standstill and constantly screaming, to move. These shoppers mainly come from Europe; however, many also come from China.

Michael Elvidge, from a tour bus company that has been operating for over 80 years, said, "This is the first time in my life to see so many Chinese people in Manhattan."

Kimberly Spell, a spokesperson for the New York City Tourism Bureau said that in the last two years, the number of Chinese tourists has risen. New York City received 145,000 Chinese tourists last year; and by the end of this year, the number of Chinese tourists will reach 159,000 – a record high. The New York City Tourism Bureau estimated that once China's tourist visa to the United States opens up, this figure will see a new high.

Spell said that foreign tourists contribute significantly to New York City's economy. Last year, New York City's total income from tourism reached 24.7 billion – half of which came from foreign tourists. Chinese tourists' contribution to the city's tourism industry has become increasingly apparent.

Ms. Wu, a white-collar worker in Shanghai, likes to buy cosmetics on the Hong Kong Salsa website. She likes a 30-ml bottle of Anna Sui, now selling at 22.80 US dollars. At the beginning of last year, it was 182 yuan. Now it costs only 164 yuan: a 10 percent decline in price.

The biggest reason for the price gap is the weak US dollar. With the strength of the yuan increasing; the gap between in value between the US dollar and the RMB is narrowing. Early last year, the yuan exchange rate against the dollar was 7.80, but today it stands at 7.15.The value of items that are 100 USD, were once 780 yuan, a year ago. But now they cost nearly 10% cheaper.

Moreover, in fear of economic stagnation, American chain enterprises launched large scale "discount sales" and promotional activities during the "end of the year" of shopping season. As a result, the entire United States is "on sale" in the eyes of the Chinese people.

According to a survey by the New York Tourism Bureau, Chinese tourists stayed in New York an average of 5.9 nights, with 79% of people living in hotels; 86 percent going out to eat; 84 percent going shopping; and 58 percent visiting tourist spots. In terms of shopping, Chinese tourists mainly buy European-brand cosmetics and clothes. And, it is worth mentioning that among the current Chinese tourists in New York; more than 80 percent are business travelers. Many of them purchase homes in New York. According to statistics, Chinese people spend an average of 340,000 US dollars on real estate in New York: 5,000 US dollars more than the British.

By People's Daily Online

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