Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why do Chinese leaders lack confidence in the country's future

In the heyday of the Soviet era, Communist leaders were described by the dissident Yugoslav theorist Milovan Djilas as the "New Class", whose power lay not in ownership of wealth, but in control of it: all the property of the state was at their beck and call.

There was the apocryphal, but appropriate story of Brezhnev's showing his humble mother around his historic office, his magnificent collection of foreign luxury cars and his palatial dacha with its superb meals, and asking for her impressions - to which she replied: "It's wonderful, but what happens if the Bolsheviks come back?"

But if even a fraction of the stories about the wealth and lifestyles of China's "princelings" - the descendants of Mao's revolutionary generation - are to be believed, China's New Class wants not only control, but also ownership. Few of China's netizens are likely to believe that Bo Xilai, the Politburo member and party boss of the mega-city of Chongqing who was ousted in March on corruption charges, was an aberration.

Why has ownership of wealth become so important for the Chinese elite? And why have so many Chinese leaders sent their children abroad for education? One answer surely is that they lack confidence about China's future. Read More