Update: In looking over this post hours later, I think I just threw it up so that I could post something new, no matter the quality. That’s because of my time crunch. I really hate putting up posts that I later look at and say, “Did I really write that crap?” Maybe I threw it up because I felt guilty that I hadn’t written a single word about China for days. Anyway, my apologies – I can do a lot better.
I am so cynical about Internet polls, which are famously easy to rig and manipulate and often so unreflective of society as a whole. I’m even more cynical about China Daily polls (this was the first such poll I wrote about on this blog, nearly five years ago.) So when China Daily teams up with one of China’s major portals to perform a survey I look at its results with some skepticism. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this survey were accurate.
About 70 percent of Chinese regard the wealthy as immoral and unworthy of respect, according to a survey in the world’s biggest Communist state.
A poll of nearly 4,000 people by a Chinese Internet portal and a local newspaper found only 4 percent thought the rich were “good”, showing that a maxim widely attributed to prominent politician Deng Xiaoping “to get rich is glorious” holds little water for most respondents.
“A scarcity of positive images of rich people in society mirrors the many perceived drawbacks of the character and values of wealthy people,” the China Daily quoted the survey as saying.
“Some rich people are thought to have accumulated their wealth through illegal means, such as bribery,” it quoted Yuan Xiaoying, a post-graduate student, as saying.
“Rich people on the mainland invest too little in charity and gain too much,” according to An Xiaoze, a Beijing student.
Lots of rich people in lots of countries suck when it comes to giving back to society and abusing their position to avoid taxes, engage in corruption, etc. Just look at recently deceased billionaire Leona Helmsley, dubbed “the Queen of Mean” by her many detractors – she and her husband Harry simply couldn’t fathom the notion of charity. And she went to jail for tax evasion, poor thing.
Are China’s wealthy any worse than those in other countries? Is this just another phase for a developing country, one that will improve as the country develops? Is this just a big bunch of sour grapes? Or do most Chinese rich people suck?
I know, it’s a complex subject and there are no absolutes; there are all kinds of rich people here, and everywhere. So why the high level of animosity toward them here? I have my own ideas, and am curious to see what others have to say.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.