Plastered throughout the streets of Beijing is the face that captures the essence of China and its future. One pair of gentle eyes greets the city’s workers as they plunge into the day’s rat race and then welcomes them back home after a hard day’s work.
Some even call him the face of modern China: KFC’s Colonel Sanders.
The Colonel even competes for wall space with historic Communist leader Mao Zedong.
In fact, a giant, gold statue of Mao which overlooked the countryside recently has been demolished days after being erected. An official says the statue was never registered or approved.
But, don’t expect the nation’s KFCs to come down anytime soon.
The country is seasoned with about 4,900 stores. The first opened its doors in 1987. Since then, the communist country has been welcoming some of the perks of capitalism – the system Mao sought to keep at bay when he ruled China with an iron fist.
Today, Beijing is engulfed by an air of commercialism. It’s flooded with more than just fast-food chains and the blessing of the Colonel. It’s also surrounded by shiny cars and fancy hotels where the ultra-rich come to play.
Still, it’s not to say the country’s capitalists haven’t embraced the ruling Communist Party. According to the Hurun Research Institute, a third of the nation’s wealthiest people are party members. The same research suggests many people in the National People’s Congress are billionaires.
China seems to be enjoying a Communist-Capitalist hybrid system.
However, Beijing is learning it can’t just enjoy all the benefits of capitalism without enduring some of its challenges and risks. Among them is the recent stock market crash. Last week, the CSI 300, an index of China’s biggest stocks, fell by 7 percent – the worst opening of a year for Chinese markets in history.