It’s a story about sex and money, but what catches the attention of many Chinese netizens is the “beyond imagination” gap between the country’s rich and poor.
In early April, pictures started to circulate online about a rumored “group sex” party in the coastal city of Sanya. Many high-profile celebrities and young models were said to participate a 3-day Hainan Rendez-Vous Lifestyle and Yacht Show. Rumor has it that it was a party filled with sex and drugs. It’s said that one young model earned some RMB 600,000 yuan ($97,000) through offering sex at the party, and that a total of more than 2,000 condoms were used at the party over 3 days.
Discussions of the party already faded after 2 weeks. That is until Guo Meimei, whose online showoff of her extravagant lifestyle almost ruined the reputation of China Red Cross in 2011, came on stage. There are two versions of how it all started. The first was that Guo had a crush on one wealthy member of China’s Sports Car Club (SCC), wanted him to join the Sanya party but was rejected. The second was that members of SCC wanted to have group sex with Guo at the Sanya party but was refused. Either way, a war of words started on Weibo, China’s leading microblog service, between Guo and a few members of SCC.
SCC members accused Guo of trading sex for money at the Sanya party. Needless to say, Guo denied, saying that she is too rich to have the need to sell sex. To prove her point, Guo showed off 10 casino chips worth RMB 5 million in total.
In response, one SCC member showed off part of his bank account that had a balance of RMB 3,710,002,511.36 yuan (Yeah, many Chinese netizens had the same problem figuring out how much that was. It was over RMB 3.7 billion.) In a follow-up post, another SCC member showed off another account that had a balance of over RMB 9.9 billion.
The statement to Guo, presumably, is “How dare you say that you are rich in front me!” Whether Guo gets the message is questionable, but Chinese netizens surely get it. Many of them sighed: “I cannot believe my eye.”
Many members of SCC are what the Chinese call “second generation rich (富二代, fu er dai)”, meaning offspring in their late teens or twenties of China’s first rich generation after the opening-up policy. SCC was funded in 2009, and is currently China’s biggest and best-known sports car club. Membership requires at least a Porsche Carrera 911 and a RMB 10,000 yuan membership fee per year, which is about 50% of the annual income of an urban resident in China.
The club has long been seen as a playground for China’s young, rich and spoiled. The current controversy on Weibo is just another example. For example, Chen Junyu, owner of the 3.7 billion bank account, was rumored to be only 19 years old.
Currently, “Fight between Guo Meimei and second generation rich” is the second top trending topic on Weibo, with more than 3 million chatters. Guo Meimei and several SCC members are among the most searched people on Weibo.
One comment from netizen 释不归, executive director of CCSMEDIA who in no means belongs to the poor, represents how most netizens reacted to the farce: “I counted the balance many times. I couldn’t help but sigh. An ordinary people like me could have never imaged that the wealth gap in China was already this big.”
Another netizen 灬LiViA兔大小姐灬 commented: “Thank you, Guo Meimei. Thank you SCC. You make me understand that I’m not living at the bottom of this society, I live 180 floors beneath the bottom.”
Much of the cynicism comes from the belief that many of China’s super rich earned their wealth through illegitimate ways. Like netizen 蜀黍布猥琐 commented: “I cannot image an ethical man from no background can become rich in today’s China by running legit businesses.”
The story may be slap in the face for China’s recent official promotion of the “China dream.” To many netizens, the gap between the rich and the poor isn’t the problem. The loss of hope to become one of the rich is. One netizen Heromyself_ commented: “Now I know what is real rich. My dream was to become a first general rich and to let my son be a second generation rich. Now the dream was crashed. No matter how hard I work, even if I rob a bank, I won’t get several billion yuan in my life time.” Another netizen 暁靜靜靜靜靜靜 expressed similar feelings: “By my current income, I can become a SCC member in 1000 years. That is to say, I don’t eat, drink or spend a penny in those 100 years.”
The comment that Offbeat China loves the most is, “Socialism my ass.”
[UPDATE] New rumors on Sina Weibo is that the 3.7 billion picture may be photoshopped. Either way, it’s hard to prove at this point. What’s for sure is that damage is done, and netizens negative sentiments are real.
Picture from SCC website