Recent demonstrations in Chinese factories have made the headlines as a result of new kind of economic issues the country currently faces: a sustainable model based on social differences.Chinahas now become both a richer country, as well as more economically unequal.
The Gini coefficient, which measures social inequality in relation to income distribution, ranksChina54th out of the 134 scrutinized countries. These figures go to show that there is a clear contrast between the current socio-political scenario and the country’s formal socialist identity. They are also the result of Deng Xiaoping’s historical idea that poverty is not socialism. – “To get rich is glorious” – which ended the egalitarianism brought on by Mao.
Today,Chinahas nearly 2,000 billionaires (in yuan; source: cuua.net). But the nature of this unprecedented wealth lies within social resentment. Real Estate, energy, and information technology are the most rewarding employment sectors in the country. To realize someone’s career, building construction is seen as the quickest way to get richer, sooner.
This process represents a skewed understanding of ‘business’, which itself is often dealt with tight acquaintances, or corruption. Recent studies also show the lack of relationship between national wealth and education: 40% of the billionaires surveyed have not graduated high school, and only 30% have completed their masters. It seems as though equality is diminishing at the same rate asChina’s cultural roots.
Knowledge, wisdom, and rectitude were traditionally praised and practiced in Confucianism belief. Instead, the nouveau riche provokes social resentment by boasting their wealth through blatantly luxurious lifestyles. Film producer Wang Zhongjun is one example, for he: drives Mercedes and Ferrari cars, lives in a Hollywood-like villa, owns 60 horses from Kentucky and Ireland in his private stables, and has accumulated $30 million’s worth of art.
Yet another research conducted by Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences led to the conclusion that there is a general feeling of discontent regarding discrimination within Chinese social fabric. The consensus isn’t aimed at the rich per se, however, but at those who have gained wealth in immoral ways. Manifestations of dissent towards them are seen through the vandalism of fancy cars, for example.
Ironically, or perhaps consequentially,Chinais also experiencing a large increase in philanthropic donations. In 2009, the top 100 wealthiest Chinese citizens granted 6% of their individual budget for humanitarian causes, which is 50% more than the year before. Education, health, and disaster relief are the primary beneficiaries of these allocations.
One of the most impressive examples is the case of real estate magnate Yu Pengian’s. At the mature age of 88 Mr. Yu decided to leave all his fortune to a foundation he founded himself (to handle the social issues previously mentioned). This is the fifth year in which Mr. Yu is considered to be the biggest benefactor in the country, for he could accumulate no more material wealth. Instead, he caved in to conquer the most immaterial and prestigious deed: the gratitude of his compatriots’ in the future.