A warning for wealthy Asians who send their children abroad

In a recent article entitled, The Golden Generation: Why China’s super-rich send their children abroad, the New Yorker delves into why wealthy Chinese are increasingly sending their children abroad to be educated and/or to emigrate. However, the article also offered a cautionary warning to anyone in Asia who considers doing the same as the author asked one of the Chinese profiled if she had ever thought about working in China:

“The thing is, I’m not sure I’d fully fit in there now. I lack my parents’ Chinese business know-how. Westerners are all about being straightforward and direct. But, when you negotiate a deal in China, it’s all about what’s unsaid, simultaneously hiding and hinting at what you really want. In China, I’m treated like a naïve child, and sometimes I feel like an alien.”

The author of the piece added:

Pam and many of her friends, having emigrated in their teens, exist between two cultures. Canadians, and the West generally, could be inscrutable. The cultural capital that their parents had hoped would be theirs was elusive. But having been away from China during years of dizzyingly rapid change made them foreigners there, too.

The author then asked whether she preferred Vancouver to Asia, and she said she did:

“It’s like this: when I am driving here and need to make a turn, I turn on my signal light and do it. It’s the most normal thing in the world. When I first drove in Asia, I flashed my signal and immediately people, instead of slowing down, all sped up to cut me off. It was so maddening, and then, after a little while, I became like everyone else. I never signal when I turn in Asia. I just do it. You don’t have a choice.”

The author also noted that there is a common conception that the fuerdai (which means “rich second generation”) are being groomed to inherit their parents’ businesses, but this isn’t necessarily the case as someone else profiled in the article was quoted as saying:

“My daddy doesn’t want me to kill the company he has worked so hard to build. He told me, ‘If you don’t have the ability to take over, it’s better for you to collect a monthly income and give the reins to someone else.’”

Instead, wealthy Chinese parents will often provide their children with money to start a small venture and to test their business acumen.

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