Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Imagining Walmart

Three times in about as many weeks, different people have informed me that Liuzhou is soon to have a branch of Wal-Mart. This rumour pops up regularly.

What happens is that somewhere in Liuzhou a new building site emerges (the whole city is a building site) and they erect a protective hoarding around it. Of course, they need to decorate the hoarding and inform the public of what delights await them. Unfortunately, it is always nonsense. Housing projects are idealized to a ridiculous degree and shopping mall projects are pure fantasy.

The main reason for the current rumour is the building site on the north side of the city square. They blew up the People's Hospital in order put up what they promise will be Guangxi's biggest erection – delightfully named "Liuzhou Royal International Fortune City". They haven't started constructuion yet – the site is just a big hole in the ground, but the hoarding around the site is covered in pictures of the proposed building. First they took an old panorama of Liuzhou and Photoshopped their erection into place.

Liuzhou Royal International Fortune City

(Many of the buildings in the foreground have been demolished recently. So the picture depicts a building which hasn't been built yet and buildings which have been demolished))

To add variety to the decorations, they have added pictures of a shopping mall which is supposedly going to be at the base of the erection.


Close inspection of these two pictures reveals that they are, in fact, airbrushed photos of a shopping mall in Canada! The same picture was used a few years back when they built the Liuzhou mall which is home to the Pizza Hut – and everyone was convinced then that the site would be guess what? Wal-Mart.

But what I really can't understand is why people would be excited by a Wal-mart anyway. I have met foreigners in China who are convinced that this will give them access to all sorts of western delights. They must be very disappointed when they get to the stores. Wal-Mart isn't in China to cater to a handful of expatriates; they are firmly after the Chinese shopper and they stock what the Chinese shopper wants. They carry very few western goods which can't be bought everywhere else.

I suppose one day Wal-Mart will roll into town, but I'd be very surprised if was any time soon.

In the meantime the nearest branch is in Guilin.

. This entry was posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 at 2:41 pm and is filed under About Liuzhou, Liuzhou Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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