17 August 2019
China's newly-rich always seek fresh ways to show off, like roping in celebrity guests at lavish banquets and parties. Photo: internet
China's newly-rich always seek fresh ways to show off, like roping in celebrity guests at lavish banquets and parties. Photo: internet

Chinese ‘tuhao’ find new games to play

China’s nouveau riche are moving to a new level as they try to show off their wealth and status. 

While some things remain common across this breed, one can now also spot some differences in the games played by them from northern and southern China, China Business News noted.

Nowadays, “tuhao” — a collective term in Mandarin that refers to uncouth wealthy people in China, including entrepreneurs, factory owners and corrupt communist cadres who love to splash out on anything from a pure gold bespoke iPhone to Tibetan Mastiff – are no longer content with bragging about how much money they have.

Instead, they, especially those in the northern regions, are said to be more eager to display their networking abilities with senior bureaucrats.

This is especially the case in Beijing where having one or several officials as advisors, who may help you when you are in trouble, is the prerequisite for doing business in the capital city.

Rather than counting the number of projects in hand, they compare the number of listed companies they own.

When buying a home, tuhao from north will ask how big the courtyard is instead of the size of the villa. When dining out, instead of picking from the menu, they pick their favorite chefs.

The number of cars they own is no longer good enough to display their economic success; the number of chauffeurs they hire is more important. Imported furniture is no longer worth mentioning, they now go for antiques. Tuhao do not care so much about Burberry or Valentino boutiques, they get their own personal tailors and get bespoke garments.

By comparison, tuhao from the southern regions may tend to be more subtle than their peers in the north. But that doesn’t mean their lifestyle can be sustained with just a small budget.

Represented by entrepreneurs in Zhejiang and Guangdong, southern tuhao are more willing to attend exclusive MBA courses offered by prestigious institutions like Booth or CKGSB and talk about their alumni connections.

They now like to wear Buddha beads that are sanctified at consecration ceremonies for fortune and good health. These beads are usually made from aloeswood or fragrant rosewood. Forget the chunky golden necklace or bracelet!

Some of them have abandoned Moutai baijiu, a traditional Chinese alcoholic drink that is sold at hefty prices, and switched to Longjing, a variety of pan-roasted green tea that can be even more expensive than baijiu.

Led by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, it has also become fashionable for them to wear plain clothes and shoes made from flax and cotton. But don’t get it wrong, as these clothes and shoes can be pricey too since some top brands like Prada, Dior, Fendi and Giorgio Armani have rolled out product lines made from pure flax and there are no conspicuous brand logos plastered all over the surface.

While their compatriots in the north prefer golf, southern tuhao think cycling is cooler. After batch-purchase of western oil paintings at Sotheby’s or Christie’s events, thangka, Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk appliqué from Tibet, is said to be their new pastime at present.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


When going out, Chinese tuhao, especially from the north, like to flaunt that they have an entourage including drivers, chefs and nannies. Photo:

Led by Jack Ma, tuhao in China’s southern regions now like to wear plain clothes and shoes made from flax and cotton. Photo: Xinhua

It’s fashionable for tuhao in Zhejiang and Guangdong to go cycling. A limited-edition US$17,000 bike from Chanel may suit their needs. Photo: Chanel

EJ Insight writer

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