And Finally

Supermarket sweep

Chinese shopper in US spending binge

Supermarket sweep

Mothers-to-be are generally advised to stock up on the things they will need for their newborn well in advance of giving birth.

But Mrs Zhang, a new mother from mainland China, has taken that advice to the extreme.

Having travelled to the US to have her baby, Zhang decided to stay on and purchase everything that her son will need until he is five years-old. In fact, she has bought so much that she needs to rent an entire shipping container to bring all the items back to China.

In an article published by the American Chinese language newspaper Qioabao, Zhang assures readers she is not a shopaholic and that bulk buying like this actually makes financial sense.

“Children’s supplies in China are incredibly expensive. Things that are of slightly better-than-average-quality cost several hundred yuan but here I buy from discount stores where products priced $5 to $10 are good quality. It is really cost-effective to buy things in the United States,” she said.

So far Zhang has bought over 300 items of clothing, two baby seats for the next five years, 80 toys, as well as diapers and milk powder in bulk.

The article stirred a huge discussion online with some seeing it as another example of a wealthy Chinese wasting money.

But most people said they understood Zhang’s motivations. “These people are neither out of their mind nor showing off their wealth. They just want to buy cheaper, safer and more durable goods with lower prices than in China,” wrote one user on Sina Weibo.

“Her actions show people don’t feel safe with Chinese products. Rich people buy them from overseas and it’s the poor who are unlucky,” wrote another.

Purchases of milk powder overseas have become particularly common, since six infants died and thousands of others were made ill by milk formula laced with melamine in 2008.

Likewise, the trend of giving birth in America is designed to give the child the chance to leave China if he or she wants to later in life.

A survey published last year showed that children’s health and education were the main reasons cited by Chinese parents in deciding to emigrate.

Following the news of Zhang’s experience in the US, other expectant mothers said they would also like to give birth there. “It makes sense. How do you do it?” asked one, after reading the article.

Others pondered the storage question (having a home with enough space to store five years worth of milk, toys and nappies). As wealthy as Mrs Zhang may be, it seems she may have run into this issue too, limiting her shopping to items her child will need before he is five. Will he then be given made-in-China items? Not if Mrs Zhang has anything to do with it. She is planning another shopping binge in five years time, the newspaper said.

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