There is hardly any other Chinese city where decadent wealth and bitter poverty meet so starkly: In the nightlife district of Sanlitun, the sons of CP honchos cruise around in their brightly colored Ferraris, while old women in tattered clothes are begging for handouts on the street corners. In flashy shopping malls, female customers carry designer bags that exceed the annual salary of the receptionists at the entrance many times over. The inequality is plain to see, and yet it is rarely addressed or even criticized by the capital’s citizens.
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