The rich get richer...

For­eign­ers dif­fer­en­ti­ate Chi­nese rich and poor peo­ple with those in their own coun­tries

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - The story was com­piled by Zhou Ping based on a Global Times video.

Fuer­dai, which lit­er­ally means rich sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, is a Chi­nese term that refers to chil­dren of nou­veau riche wealthy fam­i­lies. The term first be­came widely known sev­eral years ago fol­low­ing fre­quent me­dia cov­er­age de­scrib­ing them as spoiled and badly be­haved. Ac­cord­ing to me­dia, fuer­dai do not work and in­stead live off of their par­ents’ bank ac­counts, spend­ing their empty days driv­ing around in lux­ury cars, shop­ping at high- end malls, get­ting plas­tic surgery, act­ing ar­ro­gant to­ward peo­ple they con­sider be­neath them and over­all con­tribut­ing noth­ing pos­i­tive sitive to so­ci­ety, ex­cept per­haps to the GDP.

Qionger­dai, how­ever, refers to chil­dren from poor fam­i­lies, and have re­ceived sig­nif­i­cantly less me­dia cov­er­age.

The Global Times re­cently asked sev­eral for­eign­ers in Shang­hai about their im­pres­sions of fuer­dai and qionger­dai and the dif­fer­ences be­tween sim­i­lar groups in their own re­spec­tive coun­tries.

Ev­ery so­ci­ety has rich and poor peo­ple, but the dif­fer­ences be­tween these two groups in some coun­tries are big­ger than in other places.

Mariam Turkia, a 28-year-old woman from Ge­or­gia, said there is no spe­cial name for fuer­dai in her coun­try. When she first heard the term in Chi­nese she was con­fused by its mean­ing, but when she learned what the char­ac­ters meant, she thought it was quite in­ter­est­ing.

“We have a first class and sec­ond class, rich peo­ple and poor peo­ple, in our coun­try,” said 24-year-old Tamires, a stu­dent from Brazil.

Jack, a 21-year-old stu­dent from the US said his coun­try has sim­i­lar so­cial classes. “I think we call the rich sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion ‘rich kids’. But it doesn’t seem to be as big a dis­par­ity as it is here. Like in the Shang­hai clubs, you’ll see peo­ple with body guards,” he said.

Lukas Luthiger from Switzer­land said his coun­try does not have such names for the dif­fer­ent groups “be­cause in Switzer­land, the dif­fer­ence be­tween the rich and the poor isn’t that big.”

“We also have names for chil­dren of rich fam­i­lies; we just call them ‘rich kids,’ but it’s more of a joke,” he said.

Me­dia re­ports of­ten ex­ag­ger­ate the bad be­hav­ior of fuer­dai, but our in­ter­vie­wees told the Global Times that stereo­types are based on truth.

Mariam said most rich kids are spoiled and drive ex­pen­sive cars. She has met some Chi­nese

fuer­dai both in China and in the US. “In China, the ones I have met are just a bit show-offy, like they are driv­ing very ex­pen­sive cars. But in the US the Chi­nese rich kids usu­ally hang out by them­selves in small groups.”

Mariam also found that Chi­nese fuer­dai in the US, pre­fer to study at an ex­pen­sive univer­sity but don’t ac­tu­ally do any study­ing. “They just drive around all day in their ex­pen­sive cars. I have a feel­ing that they are only there to get a diploma,” she said.

A lux­ury car and bad aca­demic per­for­mance might be tell­tale signs of the fuer­dai group, but the group none­the­less en­joys far more priv­i­leges than or­di­nary peo­ple can imag­ine. Jack said once he met a Chi­nese friend whose name was King. When Jack looked at King’s WeChat mo­ments, it seemed like King bought a new car nearly ev­ery day.

“It’s just in­sane to me. Be­cause I don’t know any­body in the US that has that kind of money. Al­though it seems crazy, it’s also very in­ter­est­ing,” he said.

“I re­mem­ber the first time I went to a club in China, I was in the bath­room and there was a rich kid us­ing the uri­nal. While he was pee­ing, one of his two body guards was giv­ing him a back mas­sage and the other was feed­ing him gum. I was shocked.”

Widening gap

Un­like fuer­dai, qionger­dai are less known in

China and abroad. Luthiger said they have no spe­cial word for poor peo­ple in Switzer­land sim­ply be­cause his coun­try does not have many poor peo­ple.

“But it’s preva­lent in the US and any other place where real es­tate prices are high. It’s hard for chil­dren to move out of their par­ents’ houses. In the Bay Area, in Cal­i­for­nia, where I’m from, to get an apart­ment your­self you have to re­ally be do­ing well. So, there are a lot of peo­ple who live at home. But I think that’s chang­ing,” said Jack.

Mariam had never heard the phrase qionger­dai be­fore. But she said that it is not nice to rely on one’s par­ents, es­pe­cially when some­one has al­ready grown up. “You can get a job by your­self and then move out of your par­ents’ house,” she said.

Tamires said that in her coun­try it is the same, as peo­ple judge each other by the money they have. “It’s re­ally easy to say that some­one who is poor has a low ed­u­ca­tion. We do have a lot of stereo­types back there,” she ex­plained.

Ac­cord­ing to a CNBC re­port in 2017, re­searchers found that world­wide in­equal­ity has risen in nearly ev­ery global re­gion since 1980. The World In­equal­ity Re­port found that, since 1980, the top 0.1 per­cent of wealth own­ers (about 7 mil­lion peo­ple) cap­tured as much of the world’s growth as the bot­tom half of the adult pop­u­la­tion (around 3.8 bil­lion peo­ple).

Our in­ter­vie­wees told the Global Times that they were aware of the widening gap be­tween the world’s rich and the poor and at­tribute it to a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.

“In my own coun­try, it’s caused by the bad econ­omy, for sure. There’s a small per­cent­age of rich peo­ple who are hold­ing the ma­jor­ity of the wealth in ev­ery coun­try, and the mid­dle-classes are not as strong as we want to be,” Mariam said.

“But China is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. China is get­ting so rich now. Ev­ery­thing like the econ­omy is flour­ish­ing and the govern­ment is work­ing well for the coun­try. Chi­nese peo­ple who sud­denly get rich don’t re­ally know how to han­dle all of this money and wealth. That’s the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween China and the rest of the world,” she said.

Luthiger thinks the dif­fer­ent in­come lev­els are re­sult­ing in the gap, but an­other more im­por­tant rea­son is whether a per­son’s par­ents were al­ready rich.

“Some­one who is rich be­cause he earned it by him­self, be­cause of hard work and a good ed­u­ca­tion, is re­spectable. But if some­one just got it from his or her par­ents, then it’s not re­ally ad­mirable,” he said.

Al­though most of the in­ter­vie­wees be­lieve that the best way to get wealthy is through hard work and smarts, some feel it is im­pos­si­ble in to­day’s world.

“Hard work pays well but I don’t think you’re go­ing to get su­per rich from it. You just have to be in the right place at the right time,” Mariam said.

Photo: VCG

Fuer­dai spend their days driv­ing around in lux­ury cars and shop­ping, peo­ple say.

Jack

Mariam Turkia

Pho­tos: VCG and Lu Ting/ GT

The gap be­twee n the rich and the poor has been widening world­wide since 1980.

Tamires

Lukas Luthiger

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