“Children of the Revolution”

The WSJ has a good description of the princelings here, including the problems they’re causing in a country where most people still can’t even dream of lifestyles so opulent:

One evening early this year, a red Ferrari pulled up at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Beijing, and the son of one of China’s top leaders stepped out, dressed in a tuxedo.

Bo Guagua, 23, was expected. He had a dinner appointment with a daughter of the then-ambassador, Jon Huntsman.

The car, though, was a surprise. The driver’s father, Bo Xilai, was in the midst of a controversial campaign to revive the spirit of Mao Zedong through mass renditions of old revolutionary anthems, known as “red singing.” He had ordered students and officials to work stints on farms to reconnect with the countryside. His son, meanwhile, was driving a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and as red as the Chinese flag, in a country where the average household income last year was about $3,300.

State-controlled media portray China’s leaders as living by the austere Communist values they publicly espouse. But as scions of the political aristocracy carve out lucrative roles in business and embrace the trappings of wealth, their increasingly high profile is raising uncomfortable questions for a party that justifies its monopoly on power by pointing to its origins as a movement of workers and peasants.

The antics of some officials’ children have become a hot topic on the Internet in China, especially among users of Twitter-like micro-blogs, which are harder for Web censors to monitor and block because they move so fast. In September, Internet users revealed that the 15-year-old son of a general was one of two young men who crashed a BMW into another car in Beijing and then beat up its occupants, warning onlookers not to call police.

An uproar ensued, and the general’s son has now been sent to a police correctional facility for a year, state media report.

Last year, Chinese learned via the Internet that the son of a former vice president of the country—and the grandson of a former Red Army commander—had purchased a $32.4 million harbor-front mansion in Australia. He applied for a permit to tear down the century-old mansion and to build a new villa, featuring two swimming pools connected by a waterfall.

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