The teaching staff of a butler training school in China.

Before putting on white gloves and checking to see if anything is missing on the dining table, housekeeper trainees in China must first master the basics.

`The first thing we teach them is how to use a knife and fork,` said Christopher Noble, head of training at the China International Butler Academy.

A branch of the Netherlands-based International Butler Academy, the school located southwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, hopes to meet the growing needs of China’s super-rich and

`Downton Abbey`, a British television series about life in wealthy families surrounded by servants, is causing a stir in China.

The school is a joint venture between the institute in the Netherlands and real estate company Langji Chengdu, as well as students themselves working in hotels or real estate companies, looking to improve their services

Noble said training begins with teaching how to smile, posture, and even personal hygiene.

`Straighten your back, stick out your chest, look straight, don’t look at the ground. We teach Chinese students that they must be aware that everyone in the room is watching you.`

Many students struggle when they first arrive. It is difficult for them to learn how to arrange cutlery on the table for a dinner according to standards. In addition, the language barrier also causes many difficulties.

`I can put a cup of tea down in front of you, with a very elegant look but with enthusiasm, a style that is difficult to put into words,` Noble said.

The curriculum here is almost identical to the one in the Netherlands, but adapted for China.

Butler - new jewelry for China's super-rich

Set the dining table.

However, there is an equally important skill: butlers must learn to control themselves after many hours of serving stressful employers, Noble emphasized.

`Being a billionaire or millionaire does not mean being a polite person. Therefore, a butler must know how to keep to himself and take care of his soul and body.`

Pu Yan, manager of the school’s sales and marketing department, said that so far, 17 students have graduated and nine more will start the course this week.

Graduates can earn 31,500 yuan a year (about 5,000 USD), but if they know English and master many advanced skills, they can easily earn three times that amount.

She said that China’s economic recession does not mean that the demand for butler services is declining.

`Many companies are in a transition period, they want to focus on providing better customer service than their competitors, turning customers into loyal service users.`

Dan-Xia Bossard, director of marketing center Fletcher Knight, sees no reason why China’s super-rich shouldn’t hire butlers.

`It’s a subtle way of marketing image and wealth – having someone serve your every need,` Bossard says.

China currently has 596 billionaires, more than the US with 537 people.

Wang Mingzhu used to work as a wedding planner.

Wang did not say how much money he made, just said `a lot`.

`There are so many things to learn, such as grape varieties, wineries, or winemaking methods,` Wang said.

Wang said that this profession makes customers look at her with different eyes, full of respect and sympathy.

`In China, service professions often have a negative meaning. People think that having to serve someone means you are inferior. However, this does not exist in the minds of Western people. Everyone is

Butler - new jewelry for China's super-rich

Use a ruler to measure the exact distance between wine glasses.

Hong Hanh