Two-thirds of Chinese people believe the nation's rich are "immoral and not worthy of respect," state media said Wednesday, quoting an online poll.
The survey, conducted last week, found that 70 per cent of the 3,990 respondents agreed with the negative statement and 4 per cent thought wealthy Chinese were "good," the China Daily newspaper reported.
The poll by the state-run China Youth Daily and the popular website Sina.com drew concerns from respondents that how rich people had acquired their wealth through illegal means, China Daily said.
"A scarcity of positive images of rich people in society mirrors the many perceived drawbacks of the character and values of wealthy people," it said.
About 1.5 million of China's 1.3 billion people are rich if an annual income at least 50,000 dollars is used as the benchmark, and the number of rich people is increasing by about 15 per cent per year, the China Economic Times said recently.
Another poll by the China Youth Daily and Sina.com last month found that 57 per cent of 8,000 respondents considered "extravagant" the best adjective for rich people, followed by "greedy" and "corrupt."
But 93 per cent of the respondents wished that they could also be rich while 33 per cent said rich people were "smart," China Daily said.
Regional and occupational income gaps have grown rapidly during China's economic reforms over the past 20 years.
Earlier this year, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated that China's richest 10 per cent owned more than 40 per cent of all private assets, compared with less than 2 per cent of assets for the poorest 10 per cent.
The academy said China's income disparity was close to that of some Latin American nations.
China's ruling Communist Party has made narrowing income gaps a priority and a cornerstone of party leader and state President Hu Jintao's policy of building a "harmonious society."
Last Mod: 12 Eylül 2007, 15:06