Antics of sons of the rich spark outrage

Updated: 2011-09-23 08:36

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily)

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 Antics of sons of the rich spark outrage
Flames rise from Wang Ke's Audi on Beijing's Dong'anmen Street on Dec 17 after allegedly being hit by a station wagon driven by Wang Shuo, who is now facing prosecution for possession of illegal weapons and destruction of property. Li Wenming / for China Daily

This month the son of a popular singer was ordered by police to receive one year of special education after assaulting a couple; and one of the four "capital playboys" - young men in Beijing famous for being from wealthy families and dating movie stars - was charged with firearms offenses.

Wang Shuo, deputy general manager of his family business Beijing Wangfu Centurial Development, a real estate developer, will stand trial for illegally possessing weapons and destroying personal property, according to Dongcheng district people's court in Beijing.

Wang, 29, one of the four "capital playboys", was involved in an altercation with one of the other three, Wang Ke, in Wangfujing Street, an upmarket commercial street in Beijing, on Dec 17.

Wang Shuo is alleged to have taken out a "gun-shaped item" and aimed it at his rival through his car window. Later he allegedly reversed his station wagon into the 30-year-old's Audi, causing it to catch fire.

In another case, Li Tianyi, 15, son of the acclaimed singer Li Shuangjiang, had been driving a BMW when he assaulted a couple in a driving dispute near a residential area in Beijing. He was reported to have shouted at bystanders, "Don't you dare call 110 (the police emergency phone number)."

Li's behavior drew widespread public indignation.

Antics of sons of the rich spark outrage
"A 15-year-old can drive a car without a license and display outright arrogance in public just because his father is Li Shuangjiang?" a netizen using the pseudonym Tiangang wrote on his micro blog, quoted by Xinhua news agency.

Beijing police said the teenager had been sent to a reeducation center for a year.

"I hope the law enforcement departments can implement the sentence, which makes sure the boy and the family will be educated in respecting public rights," said Gu Jun, a professor of sociology at Shanghai University.

"Beijing is home to the highest organs of State power, but some young people from rich and celebrities' families can break laws or violate regulations in such a serious way," Professor Gu said. "It's a shame for the city."

The cases of Wang and Li are not isolated. Illegal and sometimes violent activities of children of the rich have caused widespread public resentment.

The parents of those children should shoulder some of the blame, he said.

"The second generation make mistakes partly because they have grown up in families who barely take laws and regulations seriously."

Some rich "second generation" parents made their first pot of gold by taking advantage of the lack of regulations when China's economic system was transformed over the past three decades, he said.

"Their philosophy of maximizing profit by disobeying rules is instilled in their children's minds, and they eventually find it's too late to rectify.

"It can't be the first time these young men have made such mistakes, but they have never been accused before, under their families' protection.

"The public pays close attention to this kind of thing. It makes people angry. The behavior of these young men has seriously undermined the authority of the law."

Giving more coverage to similar incidents is the best way to keep them in the public eye, said Gu. But he stressed that the authorities also need to ensure that laws and regulations are able to control rich and powerful families and their children.