Lifestyles of the brat pack
Updated: 2011-09-30 09:14
By Qiu Bo (China Daily)
Show-off children of public servants are irking many
The lavish and extravagant lifestyles of the children of government officials and rich people have often been the subject of public debate in China.
But the latest incident involving the daughter of a local government official in Southwest China reinforces the point that supervision of government officials needs to be tightened to avoid future scandals.
You Yixi, a 21-year-old college student in Guiyang, Guizhou province was in the eye of the storm after photos appearing to suggest a lavish lifestyle surfaced online.
The photographs, believed to have come from You's own micro blog, have her holding two designer bags that are believed to be worth around 100,000 yuan ($15,640). Other pictures on her sina.com microblog showed expensive accessories, and she also wrote about her wealthy lifestyle.
But the big question among most netizens was how could the 21-year old daughter of You Chenghua, the deputy magistrate of Jinping county in Guizhou province, afford such luxury items.
You later claimed that she published the photos online out of sheer vanity and that the "designer bags" were actually online purchases and priced at less than 200 yuan.
Her father says that after the online umbrage he has been asked to produce receipts for the bags and also offer an explanation to his superiors. "The discipline inspection commission has launched further investigation," he says.
But the issue does not seem to be blowing over that smoothly. Rather it has stoked more online debate with a netizen called Yeduguke claiming that he could not find the same type of bags at the prices mentioned in any of the online stores.
More such queries have resurfaced since then indicating that You will have to give further proof that his purchases are as mentioned.
What has irked most netizens is the indirect link being alleged between the daughter's swanky possessions and her father's position in the local government.
The You controversy comes close after ostentatious photographs of a 20-year-old girl Guo Meimei who claimed to be affiliated with the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce (RCCC) appeared on her microblog recently. In yet another incident involving the rich and famous, the son of Li Shuangjiang, a top singer in the Chinese military, was detained for beating up a couple in a traffic dispute.
Many netizens believe that some officials' children are showing off in the cyberspace, while some others whose parents have worked at public organizations, or guanerdai, have behaved immorally and unscrupulously in public occasions.
Many still remember the notorious hit-and-run case in which Li Qiming, the son of Li Gang, an official in Hebei province, ran over two students at a campus in October 2010, killing one and injuring the other. Li threatened other students with his father's name when they stopped him.
"The misbehavior of officials' children has dented the government image and increased social turbulence," says Gu Jun, professor of sociology at the Shanghai University.
"Such incidents have raised public attention and became commonplace in our society since 2004," says Zhu Lijia, a public administration expert at the Chinese Academy of Governance.
While public supervision and criticism should be encouraged, he says, he fears that "all it will do is to give misbehaving youths and their parents a scare, rather than rooting out the problem."
Zhu feels that supervision of the officials by a third party, such as people's congresses will help prevent such incidents.
"Officials must understand that their responsibility is to serve the public and not their children."