A story in Thursday's New York Times Asia Pacific section, reporting on how the relatives of China's powerful are making themselves richer, quotes Minxin Pei P'11, CMC's Tom and Margot Pritzker '72 Professor of Government and director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies.
The May 17 article, Princelings' in China Use Family Ties to Gain Riches, leads with the news that DreamWorks is spending $330 million to build a new animation studio in Shanghai, then identifies one of the new partners in the deal as Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin. The story outlines examples of how others like Mianheng, who are related to senior leaders, are cashing in on the economic boom in China, which then benefits the Communist Party.
Regarding the subject of princelings,' "Whenever there is something profitable that emerges in the economy, they'll be at the front of the queue," Pei says in the article. "They've gotten into private equity, state-owned enterprises, natural resources you name it."
Two days earlier, Pei was a guest on BBC's Newshour radio program, hosted by Owen Bennett-Jones, to discuss princelings, and also, the death of Neil Heywood and the well-known figures in the case: fallen Chinese leader Bo Xilai, police chief Wang Lijun (who exposed Heywood's death), and Bo's wife, Gu Kailai. The conversation also touched on the New Left versus the Neo Liberals, and to what extent the Bo and Wang style of ruling is widespread in China. The domestic and international significance and impact of the story, as well as predictions about the future of the Partyand China's political systemalso made the conversation.
Being a businessman in China is not enough, Pei noted in the hour-long newscast. "In China, power is much more useful than having money," Pei says. "You've got to be in cahoots with those who are in power in order to have a special advantage." Listen to the whole segment.