Over the past week images of Zhang Jiale, the 22 year old daughter of the electronics, property and insurance magnate Zhang Jun, have gone viral across China after she posted up photographs of her excessively luxurious lifestyle on Weibo, the Chinese version of twitter. The images have added credence to the growing debate around the “fu’erdai” or “rich second generation” who have inherited great wealth from the industrialists and entrepreneurs of the 1980s and 1990s. Comments on the blog ‘China Smack’ (see link below) have highlighted public anger over issues of inequality as well as corruption.
“Our compatriots don’t hate the rich, what they hate is the unfairness behind the wealth.
Our compatriots don’t hate the officials, what they hate is the privilege behind the officials.”
This has come at an interesting time in the evolution of Chinese social and economic history. In February policies were announced by the State Council to reduce inequality through a 35-point income distribution plan. In this the State Council intends to raise the minimum wage to 40% of urban salaries by 2015, increase interest rates for savings accounts and ask state owned companies to give more back to the government. Even with these efforts concerns are still being raised from abroad as the Chinese Regime in 2012, for the eleventh year running, have refused to publish China’s Gini Coefficient which is a common measure for income inequality. In a country where it is estimated more than 13% of the population live under the poverty line with an annual income of around 360 US dollars, there is a desperate need for factual information on inequality such as the Gini Coefficient to be published.
It is hoped that with Xi Jingping’s new ‘hard line’ approach to corruption there will be a stabilisation in the increase between rich and poor, however evidence is still yet to be seen.
Two links to Youtube videos about Chinese inequality: