As Chinese authorities continue to batter the drum of a “socialist harmonious society,” the possibilty of actually realizing such a thing seems to grow ever more distant. Such, at least, is the message suggested by Southern News Online’s recent list of China’s new powerful classes. Translated in summary by CDT:
1. Government Officials:
Among this group of powerful people, the bosses have the privilege, but lower-stream functionaries reap benefits too, and so do a long list of relatives, associates and friends. Their power can reach to any corner of the society. To some degree, Chinese official is not a profession, but a “professional power.” They are supposed to use power on behalf of the people, but inevitably they have all the advantages and access to a lot of benefits in terms of employment, promotions, job transfers, overseas travel, business transactions, etc. China’s government officials cannot claim world-topping wealth, but they benefit from the following bottom line: “No matter how poor [some localities may be], the government will never be poor.” Or, as a county secretary from Shaanxi Province noted, “our salaries have greater content of gold (Âê´ÈáëÈáè), and we normally don’t spend it.”
2. Industrial monopolists:
Monopoly industries include electricity, petroleum, chemicals, telecommunications, railways, civil aviation, tobacco, finance, securities, water, gas and other utilities. Last year, rumors surfaced that a meter-reading technician at a utility compnay was making 100,000 yuan a year, and a middle level manager at a Zhejiang tobacco firm was making 300,000 yuan a year, prompting a nation-wide debate and sparking widespread massive anger.
3. Real estate developers:
According to Forbes China 2005 rich list, nine of 10 Guangzhou’s 10 richest people are real estate developers. In 2006, Guangzhou developers made up the top five of the country’s 15 richest real estate tycoons. In the beginning of China’s private housing boom, the developers may have knelt down toward government officials to get land for development. But as these businessmen grow powerful, even the government wants to join hands with them, and they naturally enter into natural alliances.
4. Stock market manipulators:
China’s stock markets are not for investing but rather for speculating. Big institutions play host to the game and the Chinese market is becoming a “club of the powerful.” Most of these institutional “investors” are supported by the central or local governments, and their achievements are bundled with the political careers of officials.
5. Large multinationals:
On the minds of officials at various levels is the attempt to lure investment from “global 500” companies. The influence of these companies is so huge that officials compete to bend over for them. The general public doesn’t choose which of these companies to be neighbors with. Instead, it is the companies that choose where to locate themselves.
6. Owners of rare resources:
Expert doctors or principals of elite schools are among the most important new haves, as people care about health care and education very much. No matter how powerful you are, you may still need help from a doctor, and may find yourself wanting to deliver a red envelope to see a good doctor. The same goes with sending kids to a good school.
Other nominees for “powerful groups”:
1. The relatives, friends and mistresses of officials;
2. The media;
3. Intellectuals within the system (those who have their way of delivering messages to the policy makers or the influence to sway the policy making process);
4. Organized crime;
5. Netizens. [Full Text in Chinese]
[Images: A contrast of the poor, or have-nots, against one of the classes of haves, a monopoly industry in the image, via qq.com]