The Litigation Brat

By Kate Malloy

Photo by Liz West.

Kuang Zhengxuan’s hobbies include sleeping and playing on his cell phone.

Is that because he has a stressful lifestyle otherwise? Not quite. He has no steady job and relies on his parents financially.

Zhengxuan’s personality may resemble that of a typical lazy high school student, however, the Chinese man is actually 29 years old. He is simply another product of his country’s “The Little Emperor Syndrome,” a fault that stems directly from the one-child policy.

While some parents cope with empty nest syndrome, it’s not an issue that Mr. and Mrs. Zhengxuan are familiar with. On the contrary, their overgrown “Man-Baby” (as he’s referred to on social media) is one of many adults in China that refuse to accept any sliver of responsibility.

Growing up without siblings and receiving 100 percent of his parents’ attention, Zhengxuan developed the impression that his parents must continue to support his financial needs for years on end. So much, that as a reaction to their pleads and measures for him to grow up, he is now taking legal action and suing his parents so they will be forced to support him.

His father is employed as a migrant worker in China’s Hubei province. He told China Daily that his son is “always asking for money,” and that he “cannot continue to support” him.

Photo by Arian Zwegers.

A “kenlaozu” in China is a healthy adult still relying on his/her parents, but Kuang denies he wants to be one, arguing that he simply “can’t” support himself.

Under Chinese law, parents are required to support their children who lack the means to do so themselves, commonly because of disabilities. But for able offspring, growing up with the “The Little Emperor Syndrome” undoubtedly leaves them with a sense of self-entitlement, instant gratification, and little to no social skills.

China’s controversial one-child policy was officially implemented Sep 25, 1980, under the rule of Deng Xiaoping, a Chinese communist leader known for being the most powerful figure in the People’s Republic of China.

Since 1980, the one-child policy has caused 336 million abortions, 196 million surgical sterilizations, and the insertion of 403 million IUD’s in Chinese women. It has also detrimentally affected China’s female population through “gendercide,” as parents prefer to have male children. Typically, a birth permit is required by province. Chinese parents either have to cooperate with the invasive law, or face fines up to several times the amount of a typical yearly income or job loss.

Kuang Zhengxuan’s parents finally made the decision to force him out on his own, removing him from their home, Zhengxuan insists he has no real abilities, despite attending school for haircutting, woodworking, and graduating from primary school. Currently, he works “exhausting” 4-5 hour shifts (sitting) as a part-time portrait model.

Chinese Colleagues and Australian Professor Lisa Cameron conducted a study in Science Magazine this past year. The team examined 421 participates from Beijing born before and after the one-child policy by implementing a series of questions and experimental games.

For example, to gauge subjects’ sense of optimism, the researchers asked them, “What do you think are the chances that it will be sunny tomorrow?” The answer was to be written from 0 to 100, with 0 as “absolutely no chance” and 100 as “absolutely certain.”

After data was analyzed, it was discovered that those born under the one-child policy were significantly less optimistic.

Overall, the study concluded that the one-child policy has produced a significantly less trusting, less competitive, and a more pessimistic individual.

Another recent circumstance in China forced parents of another 29-year-old Chinese man, Xu Qing, to take legal action themselves against their only son who refused to work because it was too boring. The court ruled in favor of Qing’s tormented parents, but Qing and his girlfriend (of one month) both continued to reside in his parents’ household for 60 days. A formal eviction notice is what it took to remove both adults from the property.

What will it take for Kuang to leave the nest?