The careers of China’s super rich – like CEOs, financers, and other corporate types — may not be as glamorous as one may think. In fact, some consider their jobs monotonous. The remedy? These wealthy Chinese have begun living it up in their leisure time. “We need the thrill to take our minds off the tedious routine of business life,” said Guan Hongsheng, 44, founder of a company that makes clothes, hats, shoes and construction supplies for export to the US and Europe.
Motorcycle racing, boating, and helicopter flying are now trending among the nouveau rich. The heightened interest in extreme sports encouraged Guan, with some of his colleagues, to found the Wenzhou Lucheng Hailukong Club in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. Guan began the club in 2008 to promote a “healthy and challenging lifestyle” to his hometown’s richest residents.
Yu Zhiwu, a member and organizer of the Wenzhou club, said, “We want to get young people out of unhealthy karaoke bars.” The plan seems to be working: the club has over 100 members, 80 percent of which come from the “rich second generation.” Yu admits that high-adrenaline pastimes like flying, racing, and sailing demand passion, time, and money.
Guan, who owns three helicopters valued at over 5 million yuan ($780,000), three yachts, and a BMW motorcycle, does not seem to be lacking in any of those qualities. More and more Chinese are acquiring them, too.
Over 1,000 small aircaft were registered on the mainland at the end of 2010. Despite the rise of clubs like Guan’s, the ration of general aviation aircraft to population is low compared to the US, which owns more than two-thirds of the world’s 330,000 general aircraft.
“Demand is growing rapidly for private air services among wealthy people, but the administrative restriction remains,” said Lu Yongguang, an industrial analyst with Central China Securities.
Guan, who was fined 20,000 yuan this year when caught flying a Rotorway Exec 162F helicopter for 20 minutes without official approval, agreed saying, “The regulations are outdated and need to be reviewed.”
This March, the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced that low-altitude airspace would be opened up gradually in the provinces of Guangdong, Hainan, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.
Yao Jun, an analyst at China Merchants Securities, said, “This is part of China’s plan to open part of its low-altitude airspace over the next five to 10 years for commercial aviation.”
photo credit: rotorway, bmw