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Teen's Luxurious Birthday Party Stirs Controversy

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A luxurious birthday party hosted by a teenage boy in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has aroused controversy in China, where the public are discontented with widening income gaps.

A flood of exclamation and curiosity has emerged on the Internet since Monday as an article and pictures titled "China's most luxurious birthday party" were posted on major online forums.

"It was evident that the host was flaunting his wealth. From appearance, it has drawn admiration, but it did no good for the boy's growth," said netizen "jxw8938" at Tianya, an online forum.

But other voices could also be heard.

"It is just a demonstration of a father's love for his son. It is their personal affair, I don't think the public should criticize them," a resident surnamed Jiang told Xinhua on Thursday.

"In addition, it seems that the birthday party did not involve the misuse of public funds, the public need not burst into uproar," she said.

Public concerns also focused on the education of the generation who were born with silver spoons in their mouths, aged 16 to 26.

"Many children today born into wealthy or privileged families could have no idea about the bitterness of a bread earner, or the fierce competition for existence in society," Prof. Wang Xiangnan, a behavior psychologist and executive vice president of the Guangxi Behavioral Medicine Association, told Xinhua on Thursday.

"A splurge of wealth contradicts the traditional Chinese virtue of frugality and easily triggers dissatisfactions. That may also lead to money worship among children," Wang said.

"The wealthy parents could educate their children in other better ways. For instance, money could have been better utilized if it was used to help the needy," he added.

Liu Guoxiong, a local radio anchor and witness of the spectacle, posted an article on his blog Monday.

"The party was held in an extravagant banqueting hall in Nanning (the provincial capital), and colorful flags could be seen everywhere.

"More than 20 king-size hydrogen balloons were floating in the sky, each carrying a 10-meter-long scroll with congratulations from a prominent local company or association," he wrote.

Although no expenditure for the birthday party was revealed, Liu's descriptions promoted a crazy online search about the identity of the party host, a boy named "Wang Chuibo" and aged between 15-20 according to clues on the scrolls.

Despite much speculation about his true identity, most netizens believe he is the son of a wealthy company boss or a government official.

China has witnessed fast economic development over the past decades -- but along with it has come widening income gaps. Such a flaunting of wealth as the luxurious birthday party often meets criticisms from the public.

(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2009)

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