Aristocrats versus the heartless rich

By Li Xiaoliang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 24, 2011
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Jing cheng si shao (from left to right): Wang Ke, Wang Xiaofei, Wang Yu and Wang Shuo

A search for "jing cheng si shao" ("京城四少") on Baidu will lead to a search result on the search engine's Baike dictionary and the definition: "Four young, rich, second-generation sons living in the capital city who like to have affairs with popular actresses. They are Wang Shuo, Wang Ke, Wang Xiaofei and Wang Yu."

The infamous so-called capital playboys are young sons of wealthy men or woman in real estate, food industry or investment. Recently, they have attracted public attention again – this time, not for their affairs with celebrities, but for their involvement in high-profile traffic incidents. According to a Beijing News report, Wang Shuo and Wang Ke were involved in an altercation last December, with Wang Shuo allegedly aiming a "gun-shaped item" at Wang Ke through his car window. Wang Ke responded by chasing after Wang Shuo's car. At a pause, Wang Shuo suddenly reversed into Wang Ke's Audi, causing it to catch fire. Wang Shuo was charged for illegal weapon possession and destruction of property at the beginning of the month.

Two weeks later, the son of famous army General Li Shuangjiang was sentenced to a juvenile detention center for a year for assaulting a couple and damaging their car in a traffic dispute. Though not one of the four "playboys," Li's 15-year-old son, whose name has not been revealed because he is a minor, belongs to the same "fu'er dai" – second-generation rich – as the Wangs.

Phrases such as "driving without a license," "picking quarrels and assault," "flaunting money" and "illegally accumulating money" have become tags for the rich second generation and official second generation in China.

Simple traffic disputes have escalated into arguments at gunpoint or physical assault, scenarios that usually happen only in Hong Kong mafia films. How can the recurring dramas not stir up public disdain and anger for the entitled rich?

Abiding the law, having modesty and showing respect are basic social morals for ordinary people. Public figures, who have used more social resources, should observe them even more strictly. The oft-repeated quote from "Spiderman" "With great power comes great responsibility" should be the motto for anyone who has the power to promote a civil society, no matter if one is upper-class or lower-class.

But some of the rich second generation do not follow those rules. For example, before his clash with Wang Ke, Wang Shuo had damaged another car in another scuffle caused by a traffic dispute, with damages reported 26,500 yuan (US$4,150). He used violence to solve problems, challenging the rule of law. Moreover, judicial rulings had not come in time during his cases which has also threatened social rules.

Other rich second-generation children might be learn from Wang Shuo that power and money can fix anything as long as there is no loss of life. If one or two crimes, such as using a fake registration plate, speeding, breaking cars or carrying guns, have not been properly addressed, they think they are above the law. And security accidents like the one between Wang Shuo and Wang Ke will happen again sooner or later.

Many people, including the "playboys" themselves, mistakenly label those of the rich second generation as aristocrats. But we should rethink what aristocrat is. The meaning of "nobility" has become vague in the myth of overnight fortunes and the loose wielding of power. But "aristocrat" is a derivative of "aristos," which means wisdom and virtue in Greek. Those who have moral excellence, fine taste and (the last) wealth can be called an aristocrat. Those who are rich but heartless can only be called oligarchs.

Hence, the difference between aristocrats and oligarchs are their heart. The former promote social justice. But the latter only care about their own interests. In a time when social interests are restructured and justice is most wanted, we call for more aristocracy to nurture a noble quality that can overcome vested interests and defend justice in our society. Of course, we first need to differentiate between the aristocrats and those who rely on their wealthy parents and only know how to race cars, assault people and show off money.

(This article was first published in Chinese and translated by Li Shen.)

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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