Mending the fu er dai's reputation

Updated: 2011-03-13 07:47

By Mary Katherine Smith (China Daily)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

I've been intrigued by one of last year's hottest Internet catch phrases, "fu er dai", or second rich generation, not because of who they are, but how the public has reacted to them. This group of post '80s young people has earned its own nickname because of their parents' wealth and - more importantly - their flashy, extravagant lifestyles. They not only have large disposable incomes (thanks to mom and dad) but also have been educated abroad and have a vast network of social contacts and a high standard of living.

Mending the fu er dai's reputation

The idea of "rich kids" having access to their family's wealth to help them attain status or notoriety is not exclusive to China. But what separates China's fu er dai from other countries' affluent youth is the public's near obsession with the lifestyles of these "spoiled little emperors". While other heirs to fortunes, like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, may also attract more media attention than they deserve, the fu er dai seem to be admired and revered in China for merely being born into a wealthy family.

Mending the fu er dai's reputation

Tang Zijia has taken the reins of his late father's property and
investment empire. Provided to China Daily

Whether it's lighting up cigarettes using 100-yuan bills or shouting at people by saying "My father is Li Gang", some of these over-privileged sons and daughters are doing little to contribute to the country and society that helped their parents achieve their wealth and status.

There are a few exceptions - some fu er dai are following in their parents' footsteps by working hard and giving back. One example is Tang Zijia, or Charles Tang. Tang, barely 30, has taken the reins of his late father's property and investment empire, the Tomson Group, and is leading the company to continued success. He's also made a positive name for himself and the Tomson Group through his many philanthropic endeavors.

His dream: That the Tomson name, which adorns many of Shanghai's high-end properties, will not only be synonymous with luxury but with giving back as well. On this week's Culture Matters, he talks about how his contributions of time and money have helped underprivileged youth from impoverished areas attend school. He shares his experiences working for his father's company and how his contributions to those in need have not only affected him but Tomson's employees as well.

Tang is heir to a multi-billion yuan fortune, yet he stays down-to-earth, unlike so many others born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth. His humble and soft-spoken manner in the workplace and compassion for those less fortunate have made him another fu er dai celebrity - but not for the usual reasons. It's refreshing to see some of China's most affluent doing good work with what they've been afforded in life.

Culture Matters is a cross-cultural bilingual talk show on International Channel Shanghai (ICS), airing every Sunday from 7 to 8 pm. Readers can also view the program online at


'Super moon'

The "Super Moon" arrives at its closest point to the Earth in 2011.

Radiation test

The probability of being exposed to a life-threatening level of radiation is quite slim.

Panic buying of salt

Worried Chinese shoppers stripped stores of salt on radiation fears.

Water & Luck
Self-made aircraft
Venetian Carnival