The Wall Street Journal explains the challenge posed to the CCP by China’s “princelings,” including Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai’s son Bo Guagua, who are embracing their wealth and privilege and becoming more visible at a time when the party is attempting to defend its populist image:
State-controlled media portray China’s leaders as living by the austere Communist values they publicly espouse. But as scions of the political aristocracy carve out lucrative roles in business and embrace the trappings of wealth, their increasingly high profile is raising uncomfortable questions for a party that justifies its monopoly on power by pointing to its origins as a movement of workers and peasants.
Their visibility has particular resonance as the country approaches a once-a-decade leadership change next year, when several older princelings are expected to take the Communist Party’s top positions. That prospect has led some in Chinese business and political circles to wonder whether the party will be dominated for the next decade by a group of elite families who already control large chunks of the world’s second-biggest economy and wield considerable influence in the military.
“There’s no ambiguity—the trend has become so clear,” said Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Princelings were never popular, but now they’ve become so politically powerful, there’s some serious concern about the legitimacy of the ‘Red Nobility.’ The Chinese public is particularly resentful about the princelings’ control of both political power and economic wealth.”
See also an interactive graphic accompanying the report, which showcases a family tree of China’s past and present leaders and their offspring, and read more about China’s “princelings” – including Bo Guagua – via CDT.