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Home  /  Inside China  /  Fuerdai - The New Agents of Value Deterioration
Fuerdai - The New Agents of Value Deterioration print version
In China's popular discourse associates several moral and social problems with the fuerdai 富二代, the descendents of wealthy Chinese who became rich during the reform era. What is unique in the environment of the fuerdai that makes them the target of public criticism?
Balinghou (80后), signifies the generation of Chinese born after 1980. Most Balinghou are single children who grew up in 'reform China' and thus are considered more spoiled than prior generations. Obviously ‘90后' are even more pampered in that aspect. Among the new generation, a hot topic is the sons and daughters of parents who became rich in the reform era. The term fuerdai (富二代) means the 2nd generation of rich and refers to a generation that grew up with a silver spoon in its mouth.

So what is the problem with the fuerdai? Well, many people considered these newcomers as very spoiled, unmannered and lacking principle values, which represent good old China, or even basic values which make a society function properly.

Unlike the balinghou who are sometimes spoiled but later on must stand on their feet in order to succeed, the fuerdai often get away with every mistake they make. This brings us to another problem which is the link between power and money and a reality in which the wealthy often enjoy special governmental benefits.

I read an article about the fuerdai in one of the popular Chinese portals, which defined the several types of the fuerdai which exist in China nowadays, as well as stated which types are 'good' and which are 'bad' for China's social order. The article stated presumptuously what percent of the total fuerdai is consisted by each type (no real research was conducted). According to the author, while some of the fuerdai are educated and follow the footpaths of their parents' success by working hard to maintain the family fortune, most parents of fuerdai (who are the ‘fuyidai'- first generation of rich) wish to protect their kid's from suffering or experiencing any problems, so they allow the youngsters to get away with almost everything.

What makes the childhood environment of the ‘fuerdai' different in comparison to that of other rich kids? Well there are many similarities between the two, but due to the fact that in the fuerdai's families wealth is a relatively new accomplishment, there is a greater risk in developing an irresponsible attitude towards labor by the fuerdai. This can easily result in a reality where there are no ‘fusandai - the 3rd generation of rich'. No wonder there's a common saying 'fu bu guo san dai 富不过三代' - Wealth doesn't last for more than three generations.

Apart from risking their own families' fortune, the fuerdai can become a burden on society. Their parents remember the hard times before they became wealthy and are often very wishful that their kids do not experience the bitter taste of economic difficulties, even for a short instant. Therefore the fuerdai tend to enjoy a carefree adolescence (in the material aspect, emotionally they obviously have their issues).

Being both a single child and one who gets his way with everything can later result in a young adult who contributes to the lack of compassion and the alienation that many people experience in urban China. Discussing this topic is on one hand playing along with the generalization of the fuerdai performed by the Chinese media, however it also helps us understand more about the popular discourse in modern China.

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