Friday 20 April 2018

Bouquets made of bank notes prompts outrage over wealth in China

Photographs of the paper-scented and distinctly un-communist bouquet sent shivers through the Chinese internet Photo:
Photographs of the paper-scented and distinctly un-communist bouquet sent shivers through the Chinese internet Photo:

Tom Phillips

Internet users decry cash-packed bouquet as the latest example of how some members of China’s affluent but uncultured nouveau riche have taken a battering ram to the boundaries of good taste

For centuries, roses have been considered the go-to flower for sweaty-palmed suitors the world over.

But a cash-flush member of China’s rapidly expanding nouveau riche has reportedly attempted to rewrite the romantic rulebook by proposing to his girlfriend not with a bouquet of fragrant flowers but one packed with bright pink bank notes.

Photographs of the paper-scented and distinctly un-communist bouquet sent shivers through the Chinese internet on Monday and shed light on the dubious spending habits of a group known as the “tuhao”.

“Disgustingly vulgar,” wrote one user of the Twitter-like microblog Weibo after photographs of the bouquet, made up of 10,000 yuan (£1,020) worth of 100 yuan notes emblazoned with the face of Mao Tse-tung, spread like wildfire on social media.

“Is this girl marrying herself off or selling herself out?” questioned another.

Mr Jin, the florist responsible for crafting the yuan-stuffed bouquet, told The Telegraph the customer had seen his creation as the ultimate romantic gesture.

“He withdrew the money from the bank himself and brought the notes to us,” said Mr Jin, who runs the “Flower in the House” florists in the city of Yangzhou and declined to give his first name.

“At first we had some concerns about making a bouquet out of renminbi but the customer was extremely insistent.”

The florist refused to give further details about his 20-something-year-old client and defended the commission as an “interesting episode”.

But internet users were quick to pour scorn on the young man, who they decried as the latest example of a Chinese “tuhao” with more money than sense.

The word - once used to refer to rich rural landowners – is composed of two Chinese characters: “tu” which means uncouth and “hao” which means “wealth”.

Their combination has now become a byword for affluent but culturally impoverished Chinese with “garish tastes [but without] good cultural traits and sophistication,” the China Daily reported in October.

Scarcely a day goes by without cases of tuhao-type behavior or bling appearing in the Chinese media in the form of diamond-studded Chryslers, golden iPhones or the man who served up around £500,000 in cash on plates at a wedding banquet.

On Saturday internet users ridiculed another tuhao who proposed to his girlfriend by splashing out £20,000 on 1000 pairs of shoes and then whisked his bride-to-be off in a pumpkin-shaped car.

Increasingly popular in Chinese conversations, the concept of tuhao is now seeking an international career. Earlier this month state media suggested the word might eventually be embraced by English speakers and could even clinch a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

“If its influence continues, it is very likely to appear on our updated list of words,” Julie Kleeman, one of the editors of the Oxford English-Chinese dictionary, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Mr Jin, the florist, said he was happy to accept future commissions from customers who hoped to say it with wads of cash rather than roses.

“I heard he was successful in his proposal,” he said of his mysterious but now happily betrothed tuhao client.

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