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August 22, 2009

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Boy's lavish birthday party criticized

HUGE spending by China's nouveau riche on their children has again become a hot Internet topic after revelations of a 200,000-yuan (US$29,300) 16th birthday party for a boy in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The boy celebrated at a high-end hotel in Nanning, Guangxi's capital, on Monday. Twenty-four balloons, each carrying 10-meter-long best-wishes banners from local businesses, were flown outside the hotel, Shanghai Morning Post reported yesterday.

Hotel workers put the 200,000-yuan figure on the party.

The boy's parents, both natives of east China's Fujian Province, have a clothing business in Nanning.

It is a tradition of Fujian natives to have a big celebration for a boy's 16th, which marks entering adulthood.

Last month, a middle school student was reported to have used a private helicopter to go to school in Dongguan City in south China's Guangdong Province due to traffic jams.

Reaction on the Internet since Monday has been mixed as an article and pictures titled "China's most luxurious birthday party" were posted on major online forums.

"The host was flaunting his wealth. It did no good for the boy's growth," said Netizen "jxw8938" on Tianya, an online forum.

However, a resident surnamed Jiang told Xinhua on Thursday: "It is just a demonstration of a father's love for his son. It is their personal affair, I don't think the public should criticize them.

"It seems that the birthday party did not involve the misuse of public funds so the public need not burst into uproar."

Public concerns also focused on the generation born with silver spoons in their mouths, aged 16 to 26.

"A splurge of wealth contradicts the traditional Chinese virtue of frugality and easily triggers dissatisfaction," Professor Wang Xiangnan, a behavioral psychologist and executive vice president of the Guangxi Behavioral Medicine Association, said on Thursday. "That may also lead to money worship among children.

"The wealthy parents could educate their children in better ways. For instance, money could have been better utilized if it was used to help the needy."

Liu Guoxiong, a local radio anchor and witness of the spectacle, posted an article on his blog on Monday.

"The party was held in an extravagant banqueting hall in Nanning and colorful flags could be seen everywhere.

"More than 20 king-sized hydrogen balloons were floating in the sky, each carrying a 10-meter-long scroll with congratulations from a prominent local company or association," he wrote.

Despite much speculation about the birthday boy's identity, most Netizens believe he is the son of a wealthy company boss or a government official.

China has undergone fast economic development but along with that has come a widening income gap. Flaunting of wealth often leads to public criticism.


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