The word on Chinese princelings

From Foreign Policy Thu Dec 27 2012, 18:20:52

On Dec. 26, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg both published exposés on the intersections between business and politics in the Chinese government. Bloomberg's article focused on the offspring of the Eight Immortals. The Immortals refers to a group of top officials close to China's former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, whose children are an elite sub-section of princelings -- the sons and daughters of current and former high-ranking Communist Party officials. The Journal's article explored how some of China's wealthiest businesspeople used politics to expand their empires.

Together, they run to almost 8,000 words, and that's not including the visual analysis of China's rich that the Wall Street Journal published the same day, the graphic that Bloomberg included on mapping the connections between a section of Chinese aristocracy or their companion story on a princeling who's a U.S. citizen and who voted for Obama. They're all worth a read, but if you want the abbreviated version, here's what you should know:

Princelings and their networks dominate the economy.

Bloomberg "traced the fortunes of 103 people, the Immortals' direct descendants and their spouses" and found that "twenty-six of the heirs ran or held top positions in state-owned companies that dominate the economy." Three princelings alone "headed or still run state-owned companies with combined assets of about $1.6 trillion in 2011. That is equivalent to more than a fifth of China's annual economic output," Bloomberg found.

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