How do you keep a nation happy and content when times are tough and luxuries few and far between? If the country is China, banning sight of luxury products appears to be the way.
China is a little more open to the West in the 21st Century. It remains a strange country, however, to non-nationals. That is often the case with other countries though. If you live in the Sahara Dessert, for instance, your life will bear little relation to a resident of New York, USA.
A country that experienced a revolution, which radically changed the life of all its people, China knows all too well that people can, and may, rise up. The Arab Spring, the so called revolution in various Middle Eastern countries, was sparked by many things. On one basic level a desire for westernisation played its part. Easy access to the Internet, world TV and advertising meant that people living in restrictive countries such as Libya and Egypt could glimpse western life, and all its earthly trappings.
China is closing the stable door before the horse bolts.
Chinese authorities have banned advertisements for luxury products on the country's official state radio and television channels. CNN reports that the move is "an apparent attempt to douse growing social frustration in the wealth gap between the country's rich and poor". It is also aimed at stopping corruption conducted through luxury gift-giving.
Idealistically the Chinese revolution put in place a level playing field. One where all people were equal. The reality was different. In the 21st century China has become more westernised. A wealth gap has developed. Mutterings expressing discontent could easily lead to trouble.
Instead of attempting to address the wealth divide China is simply making luxurious good less visible.
China's television watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), said "such ads had "publicized incorrect values and helped create a bad social ethos", reports Xinhua, the country's official state-run news agency.
Goods banned include high-end watches, gold coins and rare stamps. Last weekend Chinese people celebrated the Lunar New Year. In many ways the celebrations are like Christmas in countries such as Canada, the UK and the USA. A time of giving and receiving.
You may think that China's ban on luxury goods advertising is nothing, however think again. In 2012 China surpassed Japan as the world's largest luxury market. News of the ad ban in China rocked the stock market. According to CNN "Share prices of Burberry, LVMH, Richemont and Chow Tai Fook, the world's largest jewelry marker, all fell after Beijing announced the ban".
In January China's National Bureau of Statistics published important data. The figure that measures a country's rich-poor divide was 0.474. A separate survey from December 2012 by China's Southwestern University revealed the country's 2010 Gini coefficient was 0.61.
Finally here is the vital statistic. "A number over 0.40 indicates potential for social unrest, according to the United Nations".