China’s Second Generation Rich- Living the Highlife or Living Alone?

This week Weibo asks itself whether being part of the fuerdai (富二代), China’s young nouveau riche, is all that it’s cracked up to be.

China’s fuerdai, or second generation rich, are the children of the generation who made their fortune when China began liberalizing its market in 1978. This group of “princelings”, as Chinese media has dubbed them, have been slammed by networks and webizens as being arrogant, irresponsible and unaccountable.

Perhaps the most noteworthy case which has shaped attitudes to these affluent youngsters is that of the haughty son of deputy director Li Gang. In 2010, the 22-year-old Li Qimin was driving his luxury car while drunk. He drove into a college girl, killing her on the spot. Outrage at the incident was sparked when instead of showing remorse, the young Li shouted “My father is Li Gang!” – an attempt to use his father’s name to get him off the hook. The phrase quickly went viral in China.

Recently the affluent fuerdai was in the spotlight again as an article from the Guangzhou Daily asked: “Does being the heir to a multi-billion yuan fortune bring happiness?” The article stated that China’s fuerdai are actually living a lonely life. It highlighted the fact that being rich often has negative repercussions, causing jealousy in others and isolation from normal society. This can lead to anxiety, depression and stunted emotional development. The article became trending on Sina Weibo.

rdn_4fd5263d85a35China’s young nouveau riche have a bad reputation for being arrogang and flaunting their wealth. Pictures such as these, of young women burning money or throwing it around, have caused online outrage.

Weibo netizens’ opinions on the topic are mixed with some having little sympathy for these ultra-rich youngsters. As one Weibo user put it: “Come on! We have poor people who have no money and are lonely too!”

Others take a more scientific stance: “Studies show that the more money a household has, the worse the child’s mental ability is to withstand setbacks.”

No matter whether the overriding public sentiment is sympathetic or condemning to this rich section of Chinese society, the level of engagement to this topic has showed that China’s fuerdai still hold the power to fascinate Chinese webizens.


– by Nicholas MacKenzie 

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