Taming China's rich, spoilt heirs

Taming China's rich, spoilt heirs
PHOTO: Internet screengrabs

More likely to be found at a private club or a high-end restaurant, 70 scions from wealthy Chinese families ensconced themselves in a Beijing conference room last weekend for some advice on how best to serve themselves and their country.

With an average age of 27, these heirs to business empires such as sports apparel chain Anta and men's fashion Septwolves recited Chinese classics on filial piety and learnt from a Confucian expert how to combine traditional merits with business philosophy, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The session was organised by the Siming district authorities in coastal Fujian province's Xiamen city at the request of the local entrepreneurs, who paid for the costs themselves.

Such training classes could soon become more commonplace as the Communist Party has set its sights on managing and co-opting China's scions - known as fu er dai or rich second-generation in Chinese.

President Xi Jinping last month tasked the party's United Front Work Department, which manages relations with non-party groups, to "guide private-sector businessmen, especially the younger generation, to help them think about the source of their wealth and how to behave after they become affluent".

The party's focus comes at a time when some fu er dai are making the news for all the wrong reasons.

In an article posted on social media, the United Front Work Department slammed the behaviour of some fu er dai for knowing "only how to show off their wealth, but don't know how to create wealth".

"If this behaviour becomes a common problem for family-run businesses and makes all private entrepreneurs look bad, or affects social confidence towards private businesses, it will no longer be simply an economic problem," it added.

Topping the list of misbehaving rich kids is arguably Mr Wang Sicong, the only child of China's wealthiest man, property magnate Wang Jianlin.

The 27-year-old stoked public anger earlier this year after he reportedly said his top criterion for a girlfriend was an ample bosom.

He also infamously strapped two Apple watches worth 250,000 yuan (S$54,000) on his dog's front legs.

Tomboy heiress Zhang Jiale, now 24, shot to national infamy in 2013 after she posted photos flaunting her extravagant lifestyle in private clubs and of her being surrounded by models and next to sports cars and private jets. Her father is reportedly Mr Zhang Jun, an electronics, property and insurance magnate in Shenzhen.

The son of an Australian-Chinese businessman, fu er dai Wang Shuo, now 33, has also been embroiled in controversy. He allegedly pointed a gun at another fu er dai during an argument after their cars collided in a street race in Beijing in 2010.

On June 7, a fu er dai in central Henan province was slammed online for his over-the-top birthday celebration for his girlfriend. He took her river-rafting and got more than 10 staff members to line the banks and salute them as their dinghy drifted past.

Reasons often cited for such exhibitionism include the overseas education that most of these rich, young Chinese enjoy, the advent of social media, and China's one-child policy that leads many parents to spoil their offspring with an extravagant lifestyle.

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