Wealthy Chinese do not have a good reputation, a survey by China Youth Daily and Sina.com has found.
The poll, conducted last week, showed about 70 percent of 3,990 interviewees believe the well-off are immoral and not worthy of respect. Only 4 percent thought rich people are good, the survey said.
For the rich to become popular they need to do three things, the survey suggested.
First, they need to have a sense of social responsibility. Second, they need to be self disciplined, and third, they need to have a caring heart.
"A scarcity of positive images of rich people in society mirrors the many perceived drawbacks of the character and values of wealthy people."
The number of people who make at least $50,000 a year increases by 15 percent a year and, according to the China Economic Times, the country now has 1.5 million rich people.
The China Youth Daily and Sina.com survey found interviewees questioned how the rich became rich in the first place.
"Some rich people are thought to have accumulated their wealth through illegal means, such as bribery," said Yuan Xiaoying, a post-graduate student at the Communication University of China.
Even so, the survey found wealthy people who abide by the law, have a sense of social responsibility and a caring heart, are respected.
The poll showed about 60 percent thought these kinds of wealthy people were worthy of respect.
The survey suggested many voters were better disposed toward rich people from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Western economies - rather than the mainland.
Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka-shing was most highly regarded, followed by Bill Gates, mainland property tycoon Wang Shi and basketball player Yao Ming.
"Rich people on the mainland invest too little in charity and gain too much," Beijing Sports University student An Xiaoze said.
Yu Guoming, a professor at Renmin University of China, called on the heads of Chinese companies to think and invest in a long-term way. "Corporate social responsibility is not only about charity, it also connects the company with the government and the public."
(China Daily 09/12/2007 page5)