Tuhao or Not Tuhao: The Complicated Story of China’s “Nouveau Riche”


China’s version of Twitter, Weibo.com, has created a curious linguistic explosion around the term “tuhao.” A historically negative term for rich landowners, tuhao (土豪) refers to the quickly growing class of Chinese that have new money and flaunt their glitzy taste openly. Similar in connotation to the English word “bling,” tuhao refers to gold, glamour and glitz and the brand-name, materialistic lifestyle that goes with it.

China’s “Nouveau Riche” may have the dough, but have been heavily criticized by their culture for lacking in taste. Gold cars, gilded iphones and curiously expensive resort RV parks all hearken to the taste of the Beverly Hillbillies, as Tea Leaf Nation aptly suggested. The critique also, interestingly, mirrors therecent efforts of President Xi Jinping to curb China’s government officials’ large banquet parties, expensive purchases and extravagant lifestyles.

Why is it that China’s media has blown up with talk of this burgeoning middle class? Why do they get beat up by the Chinese blogoshpere? Perhaps it’s for the same reason that  Americans eat up news about Lindsey Lohan or Kim Kardashian.


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