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Shoppers are sparse at Plaza 66, a high-end shopping mall developed by Hang Lung Properties in Shanghai. (Photo by Sanmiao Photo) 
The Big Story

China's middle class tightens its belt

Consumers curb their spending even as Beijing denies a 'consumption downgrade'

COCO LIU and NAOKI MATSUDA, Nikkei staff writers | China

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI -- Wang Ren used to stay in bed as late as he could, then make up for lost time by grabbing a taxi to the office. But this year, the 25-year-old financial analyst in Shanghai has turned himself into an early riser. No matter how tired he is, Wang gets up at 7:15 every morning and rushes to the subway, saving himself 21 yuan ($3.05) each way.

While commuting by subway takes nearly half an hour -- almost twice as long as his old taxi ride -- "it costs only four yuan," Wang said.

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