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上海日报:私人服务的兴起

[陈有西按》英文《上海日报》徐雯雯记者近日就中国私人服务业的兴起问题采访了我,前天见报了。这是一个很有意思的新的课题,不算大问题,但是很有意思。外向型的报纸,思维模式很新。现代服务业是一个大有可为的空间。中国律师还没有想到去开发,其实中国的环境也还没有到什么都讲法律的时候。

The rapid rise of personal services
私人服务的兴起
By Xu Wenwen  |   2010-12-9  |
 

CHINA'S swift economic development has spawned a lucrative industry offering customers all types of private services. From personal trainers to family doctors, Xu Wenwen looks at the tailor-made treatments being consumed by those who can afford them.

"Private" was a word distant from Chinese people tens of years ago when they lived on coupon-based rationing, yet now the term symbolizes "noble" and "dignity."

Sofia Liu, whose husband owns a company in Hangzhou, has a weekend schedule involving many "private" services - a workout with her personal fitness trainer, shopping with her private image consultant and a visit to her private beauty advisor for a facial.

"I like private services, which are tailor-made and very effective," said Liu. "Although they are expensive, but worthwhile."

Liu cited an example. In the past she attended a yoga class for six months hoping to lose weight, yet it was without success. But a fitness plan tailor-made for her by her personal trainer led to her shedding weight in only two months. Her personal trainer also identified a cervical vertebra injury and helped Liu recover using conditioning exercises.

People such as Liu who prefer private services are known as xiaosi, (si means private), and the term is derived from xiaozi, which originates from the Marxist term petty bourgeoisie, but means yuppie or hipster in today's China.

While xiaozi pursue a leisure lifestyle, xiaosi emphasize individuality, privacy and the help of professionals.

Owing to China's rapid economic development, professions such as lawyers and doctors have distributed branch services such as private counsel and family doctors.

Meanwhile, a number of industries that focus only on private services have emerged in the country, such as housekeepers, private image consultants and personal assistants.

"Since popular commodities and services cannot meet the diversified demand, individualized ones satisfy the market," evaluated Zhang Lei, a sociology professor at Zhejiang University of Technology.

"Those professionals working in a private service career are also expanding the market, which provides new services people have never had before. It is a business born from human concerns," Zhang added.

Zhao Wen is a 27-year-old woman who has benefited from such business lately.

Zhao, an engineer who earns considerable income, has never had a boyfriend. She has tried blind dating several times, but none of the men she met wanted to enter a relationship with her, "because they say I am somewhat masculine," she said.

Three months ago, depressed Zhao turned to Xun Image Management, a Hangzhou professional image consulting agency, and bought a private image design service. Her image consultant identified Zhao's problem: she had an outdated hairstyle, wore no makeup and only wore simple T-shirts, jackets and jeans.

The consultant added waves to Zhao's straight long hair, taught her how to apply makeup, identified the clothing color appropriate to her skin tone, suggested she wear more skirts rather than jeans, recommended clothes with laces and accessories and went shopping with her.

"I was transformed from a Tomboy to a fair lady, and the individualized service offered me professional guidance," said Zhao. "Before that, I didn't know how to match clothing; I would just grab any clothes I could find to wear in the morning."

"High-end customers prefer a private consultant service and they have the ability to buy," said Yu Xun, general manager of Xun Image Management. "One-to-one service is highly efficient for busy people, and professional recommendations are needed by them."

Nevertheless, xiaosi remain a fresh concept in China. Many middle-class people use one kind of private service, but the number of people who use several private services, such as Sofia Liu, are few.

Although private industries related to basic necessities such as beauty advisors and tailors are familiar to most people, demanding professions such as chamber counsels and family doctors remain far from common folk.

尽管许多与日常需求相关的私人服务业,比如美容顾问,成衣师等为很多人所熟悉,一些职业技能要求更高的私人服务业,比如私人法律顾问,家庭医生却依然未能走进普通大众。

"Very few people hire chamber counsels or private lawyers in China," said Chen Youxi, director of Capital Equity Legal Group in Hangzhou and vice chairman of Hangzhou Lawyer Association.

“中国很少会有人雇佣私人法律顾问,”京衡律师集团董事长兼主任,杭州市律师协会副会长陈有西说。

"People seek help from lawyers more when they need 'an operation' rather than when they need a 'preventive injection'."

“人们只有当他们需要‘做手术’的时候才来找律师,而不是在要‘打预防针’的时候就来。”

According to Chen, hiring a private counsel costs 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) to 30,000 yuan annually, not a huge amount, so why do so few people do so?

据陈介绍,雇佣一个私人法律顾问,一年大概需要花费一万到三万元人民币,这并非一个很大的数字,却为何少人问津?

"Because Chinese lawyers do not have enough rights," explained Chen. "So when Chinese people get into trouble, the first thought that comes to their mind is not looking for a lawyer, but looking for some guanxi (relationship)."

“因为中国律师权利还不够”(找律师解决不了问题),陈解释道,“所以一旦中国人陷入麻烦,他们第一个想到的是找关系,而不是找律师。”

"The situation may only get better when Chinese laws turn from the rule of men to the rule of law," Chen added.

“这种形势只有当中国从人治转变为法治的时候才能有所好转。”陈说。

Comparatively, family doctors look likely to have a better future. Although only an elite few in the nation hire family doctors, earlier this year, the Chinese government released a plan to train 60,000 family physicians nationwide in three years.

相较而言,家庭医生的前景看来要光明一些。尽管如今在中国,只有少数精英家庭雇佣家庭医生,中国政府今年早些时候做出计划要于三年内在全国范围培养六万名家庭医生。



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