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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

Why it is no longer cool to be a crazy rich Asian in China

Is 650 yuan ($101; £72) enough to cover a day's meals?

Not according to Su Mang, the former editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar China, whose comments about it while on a reality TV show enraged Chinese social media.

"We have to eat better, I cannot eat with such low standards," she added on the show 50km Taohuawu, which has 15 celebrities living together for 21 days.

Appalled by her comments, netizens pointed out that their own daily meal allowance is usually less than 30 yuan.

Although Ms Su, known as "China's Devil Wears Prada", has since clarified that it was all a "misunderstanding" - the 650 yuan was for her entire time on the show, she said - the public was not convinced.

"She can try to explain it away, but the truth is that celebrities are elitist without realising it," one person wrote on microblogging platform Weibo.

Hers is only the latest case of public anger directed at a personality over their wealth.

Earlier this year, Annabel Yao, the younger daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, infuriated the internet when she suggested she had lived a life of struggle.

"I've never treated myself as a so-called 'princess'... I think I'm like most people my age, I had to work hard, study hard, before I could get into a good school," she had said in a glitzy 17-minute video documentary announcing her singing career.

Sharing the film on her Weibo account, the 23-year-old, whose father is worth an estimated $1.4bn, said that signing to an entertainment company was a "special birthday present" she had given to herself.

'Not deserving'

For years, China's glamorous rich have been known to be ostentatious, showing off their luxury cars and handbags online - often to the envy of their followers.

But increasingly, any kind of wealth flaunting - intentional or otherwise - is being met with hostility and disdain.

People like Ms Su and Ms Yao are being targeted because many believe that celebrities as well as the so-called fuerdai - second generation rich kids - are simply not deserving of their sky-high incomes.

"Compared with the stars and their seemingly 'easy' jobs', people will complain about how hard they work and how little they earn," said Deakin University's Dr Jian Xu, who researches Chinese media culture.

Dr Haiqing Yu, a media studies professor at Melbourne's RMIT University, added that "Su Mang's comments about her meals made people angry because they are peeling the scab that China's trying to hide" - that some people have way too much, while others get by with very little.

The wealth gap in China is stark.



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