What the comfortably-off have to protest about – Robert Foyle Hunwick
Park Avenue, central Beijing, is known for its luxurious serviced apartments, landscaped gardens and Western-style amenities, certainly not its dissident population. Yet, strolling past the compound one weekend, I was surprised to see a protest in progress.
A small group of around two dozen had assembled with signs and were milling around outside a locked shop, arguing with a harassed-looking man in the Chinese junior-management uniform of white shirt and belted black trousers. The cause of all the chaos: a swanky gym that had opened in the gated community a few months before, promising unparalleled 24-hour access to upscale fitness machines and personal trainers, had used a recent public holiday to sell all its equipment and, apparently, make off with everyone’s membership fees. Now a dispute was in full swing over who was going to take responsibility for this fiasco. The building management, who presumably had vetted the gym? The police? The residents?