BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Beijing's mayor has expressed disapproval of outdoor advertisements that promote luxury and indulgence, saying they undermine the goal of maintaining harmony between the rich and the poor.
Billboards promoting expensive villas, cars and other luxury goods to the newly-rich were often seen in major Beijing streets, said Mayor Wang Qishan at a seminar on the management of outdoor advertising here.
"Many use exaggerated terms that encourage luxury and self-indulgence which are beyond the reach of low-income groups and are therefore not conducive to harmony in the capital," he said during the gathering with the city's political advisors.
Words like "supreme luxury", "utmost prestige", "extreme comfort" and "hedonism" frequently appear in the advertisements of real estate companies promoting apartments that sell for more than10,000 yuan (1,282 U.S. dollars) per square meter, as well as townhouses and villas costing millions.
These billboards, seen not just close to the properties for sale but also on almost every major street and atop downtown commercial buildings, constantly reminded people of the yawning income gap between the rich and the poor.
Recent media reports that Ma Weihua, president of China Merchants Bank, made 4.46 million yuan (572,000 U.S. dollars) a year have triggered anger among the poorer sectors of society, many of whom could not earn half as much over a lifetime.
The per capita disposable income of Beijing's urban residents averaged 5,900 yuan (756 U.S. dollars) in the first quarter of this year, according to the municipal statistics bureau. Those in the rural areas make even less.
The Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top advisory body, has proposed that advertisements should not overstate wealth and luxury, which might escalate hostility between the poor and the rich.
Its members also said that advertisements of better taste and quality would help improve Beijing's image ahead of the Olympics.
"City planners should take into consideration China's ancient civilization as well as Beijing's status as a modern metropolis," said Yang Zhenhua, a member of the advisory body in Beijing.
He said texts on outdoor advertisements needed to balance market prosperity and culture.
Li Shaohua, another advisor, said the advertising market should be better regulated and companies needed to provide products of better quality.
Many billboards were clumsy and of poor quality, he said. In several cases, huge billboards had collapsed in high winds and caused deaths or injuries.