Following its earlier revelations about Vice President Xi Jinping’s family’s fortunes, and the New York Times’ on those of Premier Wen Jiabao’s, Bloomberg indulges in yet more wanton interference in China’s internal affairs by listing the riches of the offspring of the post-Mao era’s ‘eight immortals’. The kids of Deng Xiaoping, Yang Shangkun and other luminaries have acquired so much wealth and rank that the news agency has done a whole series on the subject, complete with fun graphic.
As is the case with anything else to do with China, it is the scale rather than simply the nature of the phenomenon that is most impressive. In a place with some 20% of the world’s population, you might expect a fifth of the planet’s nepotism, kleptocracy, high-speed train crashes and shoppers drenched by exploding shark tanks. The concentration of wealth and influence in a relatively small group of well-connected brats is probably comparable to that of Somoza’s Nicaragua or Suharto’s Indonesia. Nicaragua had a population of 3 million when Somoza’s family and friends ran the place in the 1970s, so multiply that amount of feudal, corrupt, economic despotism by a good 400 or so, and you can see why Bloomberg can’t cram it all into one article.
“The Chinese Communist Party, pretty much led by these eight people, established their legitimacy as rulers of China because they were stronger and tougher than the other guys,” said Barry Naughton, a professor of Chinese economy at the University of California, San Diego. “And now they’re losing it, because they haven’t been able to control their own greed and selfishness.”
The Chinese government’s response has essentially been to accuse the New York Times and Bloomberg of a plot (it’s here, here, everywhere you look this year) to destabilize the country in order to prevent its rise to greatness. Hong Kong is also a victim of this anti-Chinese conspiracy among decadent bourgeois American media. Huffington Post takes a noble and vibrant part of the Big Lychee’s culture and – I can only say – belittles it, and in so doing implicitly trashes all those other treasures and gifts to humanity produced by 5,000 years of civilization: paper, printing, gunpowder, the compass, the scallop cheesy opera pizza. How dare they?
I declare the week’s second weekend open.