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Mini-skirts are only part of the fashion trends in China

The mini-skirt has hit China. Along Nanking Road, the main shopping street in trend-setting Shanghai, young women are wearing hems ranging from a conservative midi-length to seven inches above the knee. After decades of revolutionary puritanism, makeup and gold jewelry are back in fashion, along with tight shorts and pedal pushers -- tight pants cut off just below the knee.

Most striking is the mini -- a fashion revolution in China which until recently has been dominated by the drab blues and greens of the baggy Mao suit.

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``It's the latest thing this summer,'' said typist Yang Xuding, who wore a yellow mini at the Shanghai motor show. ``Many of my friends are now wearing the mini.''

It is an indication of a radical shift in official attitudes that the mini has crept in without a murmur of official protest. Chinese are being permitted -- even officially encouraged -- to smarten up. One government leader recently said officials should encourage more fashionable dress.

The old Chinese concept that a garment could be worn ``three years as new, three years as old and another three years patched up'' is out of date, the official declared.

``We should liberalize our minds a bit, make life more beautiful, and stop viewing fancy clothes as exotic.''

At a clothing exhibition last September, the official called on Chinese women to be bolder in wearing pretty clothes and discard the idea that shabby garments were virtuous.