Princelings

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Princelings
Traditional Chinese 太子黨
Simplified Chinese 太子党
Literal meaning Crown Prince Party

The Princelings, also translated as the Crown Prince Party, are the descendants of prominent and influential senior communist officials in the People's Republic of China. It is not a political party, but an informal, and often derogatory, categorization to signify those benefiting from nepotism and cronyism, by analogy with Crown Princes in hereditary monarchies. Many of its members now hold high-level political and business positions in the upper echelons of power. However, there is currently no discernible political cohesion within the group, and as such they should not be compared to other informal groupings such as the Shanghai clique or the Tuanpai ("Youth League clique"), which resemble inner-party factions with some degree of affinity on policy issues.

The term was coined in the early 20th century, referring to the son of Yuan Shikai (a self-declared Emperor) and his cronies. It was later used to describe the relatives of the top four nationalist families; Chiang Kai-shek's kin, Soong May-ling's kin, Chen Lifu's kin, and Kong Xiangxi's kin. After the 1950s, the term was used to describe Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek, and his friends in Taiwan. Today's Princelings include the children of the Eight Elders and other recent senior national and provincial leaders. Opportunities are available to princelings that are not available to common people. Using their powerful connections they have the opportunity to obtain profitable opportunities for themselves and for others. The more aggressive of the princelings have amassed fortunes of hundreds of millions of dollars.[1]

Notable Princelings include Xi Jinping (son of Xi Zhongxun), China's top leader since 2012, and Bo Xilai (son of Bo Yibo), a disgraced former party chief of Chongqing who was also a member of the Politburo.

History[edit]

The latest generation of "crown princes" are in mainland China. Many senior leaders often lobby directly or indirectly for their descendants and relatives to succeed them. Although some manage to keep a low profile, many of them are perceived to be arrogant and undeserving of the fortune or the prominence they hold. By utilizing their parents' privileges, they often place themselves above the law and foster the contagion of corruption.

Xiang Lanxin, professor of international history and politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, explains it thus:

Historically, how to control local officials who possessed imperial lineage was always a problem. The Politburo is equivalent to the inner circle of the imperial household. Its members, if assigned a local administrative position, can easily overrule any opposition in their jurisdictions as no other party officials can match them in rank and prestige.[2]

Some of these crown princes are able to hold senior positions at the vice-ministerial level or above while still in their thirties, for which other ordinary cadres would struggle for decades. Others run companies involved in large- scale corruption and smuggling schemes. All of these misdeeds raise widespread sentiments of resentment and jealousy, and some "crown princes" have fallen victim to the trend towards enmity that is apparent in China. Most political observers see the Crown Prince Party as having been at the pinnacle of their power in the 1980s and to have had their power reduced after 1989 for a number of reasons:

First, not only did the Crown Prince Party cause resentment among the general public, but they also caused resentment within the vast majority of Party members who did not have a powerful relative; for example, Chen Yuan, son of Chen Yun; and Chen Haosu, son of Chen Yi lost their election in Beijing and had to be transferred to other positions.

Second, the booming Chinese economy caused a new wealthy class to emerge, many of whom demanded fair play and protection of their property.

Third, as the public was unsatisfied with the plague of corruption and cronyism, with resentment and discontent mounting to a degree that could wreak havoc on the CCP's reign, the CCP had to take measures to appease these strong feelings.

One watershed event occurred during the 15th National Congress of the CCP in 1997, when several prominent figures of the Crown Prince Party suffered great losses as candidates. Xi Jinping, son of Xi Zhongxun, and Deng Pufang, eldest son of Deng Xiaoping, were narrowly elected as alternate members of the Central Commission of the CCP, but were listed at the very bottom, due to the low number of votes received. Bo Xilai, son of Bo Yibo, was unable to get elected as an alternate member. However, both Xi and Bo emerged as major figures in China's next generation of leadership in 2007 (though Bo fell from power in 2012). Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as General Secretary at the 18th Party Congress in 2012, and became President in 2013.

It is speculated that when Jiang Zemin was close to the end of his term for his age, he put many members of the Crown Prince Party into important positions to appeal to senior leaders of the CCP and win their support for his continued influence. There is a trend towards members of the Crown Prince Party taking over power step by step. Of these, Yu Zhengsheng, son of Huang Jing (黄敬), former mayor of Tianjin, was already a member of the powerful politburo of the CCP; Wang Qishan, son-in-law of Yao Yilin (former vice premier and member of politburo), mayor of Beijing; Xi Jinping, Bo Xilai, Zhou Xiaochuan, son of Zhou Jiannan (former minister of First Machinery Ministry and Jiang Zemin’s former boss), governor of the People's Bank of China, have also occupied important positions since the 17th Party Congress.

In 2013 a "sons and daughters" program instituted by JPMorgan Chase to hire young princelings for positions in its Chinese operations came to light during a bribery investigation by the SEC. At times standards for hiring young princelings were more lenient than those imposed on other Chinese.[3]

At least twelve of the princelings were revealed to have used companies in the offshore tax haven of the British Virgin Islands to store wealth in an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.[4]

Examples[edit]

The following are some of the most famous crown princes:

A list of 226 crown princes has been published (see link below).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b David Barboza (October 25, 2012). "Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ Xiang, Lanxin (Apr 20, 2012). "Bo Xilai probe shows up China's outdated system of government". South China Morning Post
  3. ^ Jessica Silver-Greenberg; Ben Protess (August 29, 2013). "JPMorgan Hiring Put China’s Elite on an Easy Track" (Dealbook blog). The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ James Ball and Guardian US Interactive Team (January 21, 2014). "China's princelings storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven". The Guardian. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Profiles: China's new leaders". BBC News. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Children of the Revolution, Jeremy Page, The Wall Street Journal, 26 November 2011.
  7. ^ Lifting the lid on the secret life of Point Piper's grand princeling, John Garnaut, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 2010.
  8. ^ A Home Fit for a Princeling, Dinny McMahon, The Wall Street Journal, 26 November 2011.
  9. ^ Allen T. Cheng and Li Yanping (3 February 2008). "China May Tap `Princeling' Wang for Top Economic Policy Post". Bloomberg. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 

External links[edit]