Fuerdai (富二代) - Rich Kids On The Loose

Imagine if, over the past 10 years, a whole class of people like Paris Hilton had emerged in society.

The fast economic development in China, along with the hierarchical nature of Chinese society, has given rise to a class of wealthy young people who are the sons and daughters of Chinese entrepreneurs.  These young people are known as fuerdai and they have become a significant and influential group in China.

Fuerdai are can also be guanerdai (child of a government official), xingerdai (child of an entertainment star), or hongerdai (child of a high-level party official).  Many fuerdai are also one of the other three.

This matters to you because (A) these fuerdai fascinate and influence the rest of Chinese society, (B) they have become a symbol of parenting issues and the decline of traditional values in China and (C) increasingly they are in decision-making positions in successful Chinese companies. 

Some of the most famous fuerdai are:

Li Tianyi

Li Tianyi is the son of Li Shuangjiang (a PLA general) and Meng Ge (a famous singer).  He was accused of gang raping a woman in a Beijing hotel room.  He was previously arrested for crashing his BMW into a bar and threatening people if they called the police.

Li Tianyi is the son of Li Shuangjiang (a PLA general) and Meng Ge (a famous singer).  He was accused of gang raping a woman in a Beijing hotel room.  He was previously arrested for crashing his BMW into a bar and threatening people if they called the police.

Li Qimin

Li Qimin is the son of Li Gang, deputy chief of police in Baoding, a city not far from Beijing.  He killed a college girl while driving drunk, shouted “Go ahead and sue me if you dare!  My dad is Li Gang!”

Li Qimin is the son of Li Gang, deputy chief of police in Baoding, a city not far from Beijing.  He killed a college girl while driving drunk, shouted “Go ahead and sue me if you dare!  My dad is Li Gang!”

Ma Yuankun

Ma Yuankun is the son of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.  Known by the English name “Jerry”, Ma Yuankun is one of the most secretive fuerdai, quietly attending the University of California at Berkeley.  Jerry’s parents have been fairly open with the press about the fact that they basically “sacrificed” their son to Alibaba, leaving him to fend for himself during much of his childhood. 

Ma Yuankun is the son of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.  Known by the English name “Jerry”, Ma Yuankun is one of the most secretive fuerdai, quietly attending the University of California at Berkeley.  Jerry’s parents have been fairly open with the press about the fact that they basically “sacrificed” their son to Alibaba, leaving him to fend for himself during much of his childhood. 

Wang Sicong

Wang Sicong is the son of Wang Jianlin, CEO of Dalian Wanda, a Chinese conglomerate.  Wang is probably the most famous fuerdai and the most fascinating to the Chinese public.  When asked what he was looking for in a girlfriend he once famously replied, “Big breasts.”  Wang recently lost his wallet on a flight and set the whole country to discussing the financial and social meaning of having “black” credit cards.

Wang Sicong is the son of Wang Jianlin, CEO of Dalian Wanda, a Chinese conglomerate.  Wang is probably the most famous fuerdai and the most fascinating to the Chinese public.  When asked what he was looking for in a girlfriend he once famously replied, “Big breasts.”  Wang recently lost his wallet on a flight and set the whole country to discussing the financial and social meaning of having “black” credit cards.

Meng Wanzhou

Sabrina Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, one of China’s largest private companies.  Meng has worked her way up through the ranks of Huawei and is now the CFO.  She is frequently the face of the company at media and other events.

Sabrina Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, one of China’s largest private companies.  Meng has worked her way up through the ranks of Huawei and is now the CFO.  She is frequently the face of the company at media and other events.

Tips For Dealing With fuerdai

1.     Deference is key.  Fuerdai feel powerful because of their money, but they also feel ashamed because they haven’t accomplished what their parents have accomplished.  They are frequently the target of criticism, both in the media and among their peers.  This often makes them completely intolerant of being challenged.

2.     Fuerdai desperately want to make daddy proud.  Anything you suggest in relation to them should have that goal in mind.  At the very least, you should never suggest something that has the potential to subject them to parental criticism. 

3.     Parents of fuerdai are astonishingly tolerant of their children’s behavior.  The parents will do all they can to enable the children in whatever they’re doing and shield them from consequences.  Whatever the fuerdai is doing, do not expect the parents to accept criticism of the child, or even suggestions that they should change what they’re doing.  

4.     Parents of fuerdai deeply want to pass their businesses to the fuerdai.  This is a dream that many Chinese parents hold, to have their child take over the business they have built.  However, because of aptitude or interest, the parents sometimes feel they cannot pas the business along to the child.  This is stressful for both the parents and children, and tends to generate significant succession problems in the company. 

Fuerdai are fascinating to Chinese society, but they can be a problem for Westerners, who have different views of nepotism and professionalism.  As such, it pays to tread carefully when dealing with these rich, influential children.