China’s super-rich flaunt their wealth online, leaving a bitter taste

April 10, 2013
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April 10, 2013

An online cat-fight between an infamous Chinese socialite and members of an elite sports car club over who has more money has the attention of millions of Chinese, the blog Offbeat China reports.

The fight, between Guo Meimei–who came under fire for flaunting her wealth online in 2011 when head of China’s Red Cross Society–and members of the China’s Sports Car Club (CSCC) was a trending topic on China’s microblog Sina Weibo, with over 3 million hits on Wednesday (April 10). Guo had refuted an accusation from a CSCC member that she exchanged sex for money at a party in Sanya earlier this month by posting a photo of herself with casino chips worth 5 billion yuan ($810 million), saying she was too rich to need to sell sex (link in Chinese). Two CSCC members then posted images of their bank accounts, one with a balance of over 3.7 billion yuan and another of more than 9.9 billion yuan. One wrote, “How dare you call yourself rich in front of me,” according to Offbeat China.

The SCC members and Guo appear to have deleted the posts from their microblogs, but plenty of bloggers captured screenshots of the back and forth:

guo meimei chips

Neither Guo or the CSCC came out looking good and the exchange only drew attention to the conspicuous wealth of Chinese elites that officials have been trying to tamp down recently. (CSCC members are commonly referred to as fuerdai, a negative term for the children of entrepreneurs who became rich during China’s economic opening, often because of political connections.) One blogger wrote (Sina registration required), “I lament the poor of my generation. I was unaware the disparity between the rich and poor is already this big.” Another wrote, “I always thought I lived at the bottom of society, but now I realize I’m living 18 levels below in hell.” China’s Gini coefficient, a measure of economic inequality, was 0.47 in 2012, according to official statistics, but other studies say it could be as high as 0.61. (Zero represents maximum equality and 1, maximum inequality. For comparison, America’s coefficient has risen from less than 0.4 in the late 1960s to around 0.47 today.)

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A screenshot of the 3.7 billion yuan ($600 million) bank balance of one member of China’s Sports Car Club that was posted online.(Sina Weibo)

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