Crimes Climb for 80s Generation
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Supermarket employee Zhu Hong seemed to have it all going for him when he was promoted to head his accounting department earlier this year.
But he threw it all away when he wagered his savings as well as his company's funds in a local lottery.
Destroying his dreams of grandeur, Zhu, 25, was charged with embezzling more than 1.2 million yuan (US$175,500) from his company and jailed for nine years.
His case is just one of an increasing number of crimes committed by Chinese born in the 1980s, the Shanghai municipal prosecutors' office said in a report yesterday.
Figures from the report showed there are already five cases involving dereliction of duty by Zhu's peers in the first four months of this year, compared with 13 cases for the whole of 2007.
Similarly, the total amount of funds misappropriated has already doubled to more than 2 million yuan this year.
The figures have kicked off a debate about the ethics, or lack thereof, in the country's post-80s generation.
The Shanghai prosecutor's office attributed part of the trend to "a lack of responsibility", saying the post-80s generation tends to "squander money" and is more concerned with "enjoying the present instead of thinking for the future".
Legal education has also been insufficient for people born in that period, because parents make it the sole purpose for their children to go to college and find a good job, without sparing a thought for legal education, the office said.
Meanwhile, as many Chinese companies adapt to the market economy, loopholes may appear in the system that give rise to such crimes.
But Yu Hong, a criminal lawyer in Beijing, said while the proportion of workplace crimes in China has been on the rise, that does not necessarily point to a deeper involvement of that generation. The increase has more to do with the growing self-confidence of executives willing to take the risk and thinking they can get away with the crimes.
"Of course, there are also blind spots in the present legal system that might have provided opportunities for the crimes," she added.
She does not agree that members of the post-80s generation do not have enough legal education.
"I also was born in the early 1980s. But it was actually a time when China made great progress in improving its legal system. I'd say we are the generation who benefited most by such a process," she said.
According to a professor from East China University of Political Science and Law who would not be named, legal education is not the problem as some high-ranking officials from the prosecutors' office have also committed crimes.
"They know the law better than anyone else, don't they?" he said.
(China Daily June 18, 2009)