By  on January 20, 2012

BEIJING — If you happen to be in Manhattan Wednesday evening and are near the Empire State Building, you may notice that sometime between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. the lights on top of the building will suddenly change to colors of very bright red and gold.

The red and gold lighting is happening, in part, to celebrate Chinese New Year, a weeklong holiday that begins Monday. But even more so, the Empire State Building will change colors in honor of the 300 or so megarich Chinese who will be inside sipping expensive alcohol at a private gala on the building’s 80th floor.

No doubt there are countless increasingly rich Chinese traveling overseas who book tours on cramped buses with packed itineraries in New York and other cities around the world. What makes this group different is who they are, how much they are worth, what they do and, in particular, what they will be doing in the Big Apple from Sunday to Friday.

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The tour, called Dragon Week NYC to coincide with the fact that, according to Chinese astrology, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, is organized by Affinity China, a start-up that bills itself as a “private network offering exclusive luxury lifestyle events and unique travel opportunities” to its Chinese members, who can join the network by invitation only.

Last May, the group organized a trip for 20 Chinese VIPs to stay in a mansion in the Hamptons and sail yachts in Sag Harbor. Fifty of its members were invited to a private cocktail party at the Mandarin Oriental in New York with Chinese tennis star Li Na just before the U.S. Open at the end of August.

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