Bu Xie Cotton Shoes
Many things in China have changed in recent years... the blue button-up Mao suits have practically disappeared, the famous caps with red stars are scarce, but "bu xie" shoes (sometimes referred to as "Mao shoes") endure...even flourish.
Some suggest that the shoes have survived because they predate the revolution and are seen as symbols of Chinese, not communist, culture. Bu xie cotton shoes can be traced back at least to the Qing Dynasty, and come with traditional white cotton or red plastic soles.
So now, amidst the Italian leather pumps and Nike sneakers, one can find young and old as well as business professionals sporting the ancient shoes... often while flipping open their cell phones.
©Reprinted from the Winter 2000 issue of Qi Journal.