An article in the
New York Times yesterday uncovered
proof that family members of China's premier Wen Jiabao -- though not Wen
himself -- "have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion." The story results
from months (if not years) of impressive sleuthing from NYT Shanghai bureau
chief David Barboza, and while the online version of the story doesn't cite
contributions from other correspondents his China-based colleagues probably had
a hand in this 4,700 word behemoth.
landing just two weeks before the expected starting date of
the 18th Party Congress, where Wen and his colleague President Hu
Jintao will begin to formally yield power, is the latest in a
stream of excellent reporting on the interplay between often shady business dealings
and princelings-the well-connected sons and daughters of high-level leaders--
by Western reporters in China.
four of the best, published over the last
Children of the Revolution
Although there was some controversy
over whether the son of the then high-flying (and now disgraced) Chongqing
Party Secretary Bo Xilai actually drove a red Ferrari, the story masterfully details
the money flowing through China's red elite:
On a recent afternoon at a new polo club on Beijing's outskirts,
opened by a grandson of a former vice premier, Argentine players on imported
ponies put on an exhibition match for prospective members.
"We're bringing polo to the public. Well, not exactly the
public," said one staff member. "That man over there is the son of an
army general. That one's grandfather was mayor of Beijing."
Clan Links Included Citigroup Hiring of Elder Son
Bloomberg, with a flush reporting budge and financial
acumen, took the first deep dive into the wealth of a top Chinese official. Published
on April 23, less than 2 months after Bo was removed from his post in Chongqing
in the biggest Chinese political scandal in a decade, the Bloomberg piece
uncovered that Bo's family fortune was at least $136 million:
The Bo clan's wealth contrasts with his modest official
remuneration. As the Communist Party boss of Chongqing, he rated a salary of about 10,000 yuan ($1,585) a month,
according to a report on the website of the Communist Party's official People's
Rotting From Within
General Liu Yuan, the son of Liu Shaoqi, a former head of state of China, offered a fairly unvarnished view of the military, in this April article by John Garnaut, China correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age:
‘"No country can defeat China," Liu
told about 600 officers in his department in unscripted comments to an enlarged
party meeting on the afternoon of Dec. 29, according to sources who have
verified notes of his speech. "Only our own corruption can destroy us and
cause our armed forces to be defeated without fighting." This searing
indictment of the state of China's armed forces, coming from an acting full
three-star general inside the PLA, has no known modern precedent....
leaders regard the United States as a likely future adversary, Liu is more worried about what the PLA, which
hasn't seen significant combat since a militarily disastrous invasion of
Vietnam in 1979, is doing to itself in times of peace. In his February speech,
he described the army beset by a disease of "malignant individualism"
where officers follow only orders that suit them, advance on the strength of
their connections, and openly sell their services at "clearly marked
- Bloomberg: Xi Jinping Millionaire
Relations Reveal Fortune of Elite
The story that
got Bloomberg blocked in China after
it was published on June 29 revealed that Xi's extended family (though not Xi
himself) have controlled assets of at least $376 million.
"Most of the
extended Xi family's assets traced by Bloomberg were owned by Xi's older
sister,Qi Qiaoqiao, 63; her husband Deng Jiagui, 61; and Qi's daughter Zhang
Yannan, 33, according to public records compiled by Bloomberg...
accounting included only assets, property and shareholdings in which there was
documentation of ownership by a family member and an amount could be clearly
assigned. Assets were traced using public and business records, interviews with
acquaintances and Hong Kong and Chinese identity-card numbers."
Besides blocking Bloomberg's website as
retaliation, The Financial Times reported
that "people believed to be state security agents have tailed some
Bloomberg employees; Chinese bankers and financial regulators have cancelled
previously arranged meetings with Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg's editor-in-chief;
and Chinese investigators have visited local investment banks to see if they
shared any information with Bloomberg, according to people with knowledge of
The New York Times' Chinese language edition published
an uncensored version of their story on their website (a decision that other
English language newspapers with web presences in China don't always make when
they publish sensitive
stories.) Their website has already been blocked; whether their reporters
receive the Bloomberg treatment remains to be seen.
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