China Digital Space

Compare fathers

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拼爹 (pīn diē): compare fathers

Left: “My dad is a director!” Right: “My dad is a section chief!” (Xinhua)
Golden ingot offered to principal as father leads his child to the school gates. (Nanfang Daily)

Social phenomenon in which father’s status is believed to give a more accurate prediction of future success than ability or accomplishments. This term is a product of the growing disparity between the rich and poor in a society with limited social mobility.

Young people with powerful fathers are members of the rich second generation cohort. In the past few years, there have been many incidents of rich second generation youths relying on their fathers’ wealth or power to avoid taking responsibility for their wrongdoings.

Perhaps most famously, in 2010, Li Qiming drove drunk and ran over a college student, killing her. When he exited the car, he famously declared, “My dad is Li Gang,” asking which bystanders dared to sue him. His declaration became one of the year’s most viral Internet memes.

More recently, Li Tianyi, the son of a general in the People’s Liberation Army, was arrested for involvement in a gang rape; it was widely believed that the younger Li felt he could get away with such acts because of his father’s status and wealth.

People don't only “compare fathers” to escape justice. Many do so simply to enjoy preferential treatment or access to opportunities not available to the less connected.

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