Li Xueming’s Princeling Identity Crisis

BBC News correspondent Juliana Liu reports from Hong Kong about Li Xueming, also known as Bo Xiyong, who utilized a dual identity to hedge against political risk as the brother of now-deposed Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai:

Some, like Levin Zhu, head of investment bank China International Capital Corp and son of former Premier Zhu Rongji, do not hide their family backgrounds.

But for others, while kinship to China’s political elite can guarantee lucrative business offers, it can also create problems in a country where politics has been historically volatile.

From a princeling’s point of view, changing a name, or using several names simultaneously, is often seen as a way to hedge against political risk.

As a result, it is very common for princelings to change their names or use aliases when they go overseas to study or do business, according to Johnny Lau, a veteran China watcher based in Hong Kong.

“There is a long history of this,” he says. “First, they do this to feel safe. They sometimes worry about being kidnapped.

“But they also want to guard their image, to avoid the kind of attention that could invite trouble.”

Li Xueming resigned from the board of a Hong Kong-listed state-owned alternative energy company in late April as the net of scrutiny extended to Bo Xilai’s relatives.

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