Wealth gap creates inferiority complex

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More than 45 percent of Party and government officials believe they belong to the "vulnerable" segment of society, a recent survey found.

The results show the number of people who feel "inferior" is growing, despite continuous improvements to social security, which have elevated many disadvantaged groups.

The Beijing-based People's Tribune magazine polled 6,235 people belonging to various social groups. The survey found 45.1 percent of Party and government officials, 57.8 percent of white-collar workers and 55.4 percent of intellectuals felt "powerless".

In addition, 73.5 percent of netizens said they belong to the "vulnerable social group".

"The mounting feelings of vulnerability come from a mentality that focuses on inequality rather than actual economic situations," Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Professor Zhu Jinchang said.

"Chinese people have long been accustomed to an egalitarian distribution of wealth from the time of the planned economy. While the reform and opening-up has made everyone better off, it has also widened the income gap. So, more people perceive their social status as declining."

In addition, 37 percent of respondents said they were "overwhelmed" by pressure, while 29 percent said unfair competition made them feel deprived and 16 percent perceived violations of human rights.

Many survey responses resonated with the words of 26-year-old Zhu Shenghua, who quit his job in Beijing and returned to his hometown in Zhejiang province.

"I buried my nose in the books to get into a top university and then put my nose to the grindstone to ensure a bright future," Zhu said.

"But it turns out I have no chance to live respectably in Beijing, since I can hardly afford the down payment on an apartment, even if I were to save my entire salary for 100 months."

Civil servants had fewer complaints, the survey found.

Their primary sources of stress were stiff competition among officials, complicated unwritten rules, heavy workloads and moderate wages.

"Having spent 1,783 days in the realm of officialdom, I have found I am totally different from the powerful man I imagined (I would become)," said Jiang Zongfu, former deputy mayor of Linxiang city, Hunan province.

"You probably wouldn't believe county-level Party leaders can't make ends meet with their wages, and the annual budget for a county head's official vehicle use is only 10,000 yuan ($1,500)."

But many criticize officials' complaints.

The average civil servant working for a department directly under the Party Central Committee earns more than 10 million yuan over 30 years, China Economic Weekly magazine reported.

"Officials have satisfied their vested interests and are just showing off when they complain," a white-collar worker in Beijing, surnamed Cong, said.

"Otherwise, why would so many people try so hard to become civil servants?"

About 1.41 million candidates took the national civil servant examination on Sunday.

Zhu from CASS also said that Party and government officials had already enjoyed better social status and more social resources than others, so "inferiority might not be their true feeling".

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