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28-Year-Old Former Child Prodigy In China Lives Off His Parents, Says They Owe Him

Former Child Prodigy In China Does Freelance Work & Lives Off Allowance From Parents

Possessing often unbelievable talent or intelligence, many would think that a child prodigy would grow up to be rich, successful or influential.

However, one former child prodigy in China is subverting all expectations and notions of success. Even though he was a PhD student at just 16, he now lives mostly on allowances from his parents and a meagre freelance salary.

In fact, he believes his parents owe him at least the money. This is apparently in response to their controlling attitude.

He also shared that he is happy with his life now despite only having a few thousand yuan to his name. But, there are still some who believe that he has the potential for great things.

Was the youngest PhD student at one point in time

On 20 Sep, Chinese news outlet Jiupai News published an interview with former child prodigy Zhang Xinyang.

Currently 28, Zhang gained recognition for being a child prodigy in his youth.

He reportedly went to university at the tender age of 10 and attended graduate school at 13. At 16, he went to study for a PhD in Applied Mathematics at Beihang University in 2011. The institution is one of the top Chinese universities in Beijing.

Source: Jiupai News on YouTube

At that point, Zhang was the youngest graduate and PhD student in the country. However, it took him eight years to finally get his PhD.

Still, people allegedly doubted the legitimacy of that, as they could not find his thesis online.

Zhang clarified with the news outlet that thesis papers from Beihang are not available in general online archives. People can only access his thesis papers and other Beihang papers via the national library’s website, he said.

Former child prodigy now survives on allowance from parents

After attaining his PhD, Zhang became a university lecturer. But that apparently did not last long as he quit in August 2021.

Currently, he makes a small sum of money from freelance projects he takes with a friend. As he receives payment on a per-project basis, he now only has a few thousand yuan in his bank account.

Source: Jiupai News on YouTube

Mostly, the former prodigy now lives off the money his parents give him. Every two to three months, they will send 10,000 yuan (S$1,905) as his allowance, he revealed.

Responding to the interview’s questions about whether he would live a better life with a stable job, Zhang said his current situation is better.

“There is no financial freedom when working for someone else, that’s a joke. At least now, I don’t need to deal with the attitudes of others.”

Saying that times have changed, he quipped that just “eating and waiting for death” can be a very happy way of life and that he is satisfied with how he is living.

Demanded parents for a house in Beijing

The 28-year-old then disclosed that, while he does not desire much, he can always give his father a call if needs arise.

“They still owe me a house in Beijing. It should be worth over 10 million yuan (S$1,882,011) by now if they had bought it all those years ago. By this logic, as long as it is within that sum, I am entitled to it.”

Back when he was 16, Zhang demanded his parents to buy him a house in Beijing. He felt that since they were the ones who wanted him to stay in the capital, they should give that to him.

Source: Jiupai News on YouTube

He reportedly told his parents that if he did not get the house, he would halt his studies.

Chinese media then reported in 2011 that his parents rented an apartment in Beijing and lied to him that they had purchased it.

On top of that, Zhang revealed that his relationship with his parents is rocky at best.

Commenting on their controlling tendencies, he said, “They obviously don’t understand anything, yet they still want to tell me what to do.”

Former teacher still believes in his potential to make something of himself

In spite of his satisfaction with his current lifestyle, there are still some who feel that Zhang has the potential for greatness.

One of them is his former undergraduate teacher, Mr Zhang Yuehui.

Source: Jiupai News on YouTube

“He is great at studying independently, but not so much at living independently. His dad still does everything for him,” the teacher said, exasperatingly.

Having known the former prodigy for almost 20 years, the teacher noted the huge shift in Zhang’s personality.

The 28-year-old used to be more talkative, but now he keeps his true feelings hidden as he has been through too many challenges, he explained.

When it comes to his advice for the former prodigy, the teacher wants him to go out into the world and leave his mark.

Be it in research or in business, he thinks that Zhang should “never ever tang ping” or give up and do the bare minimum to get by.

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Featured image adapted from Jiupai News on YouTube

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