News / Asia

Children of High Chinese Officials Turn Connections Into Riches

By Susan Jackson and Kathy Guofu Feng

Many people have become rich under China’s developing economy. But none as fabulously wealthy as the “Princelings” -- the children of high party officials.

With great ceremony, China’s ruling Communist Party Congress is meeting to choose the next generation of leaders.

Many of these men are the sons of former high party officials. They are called ‘princelings’ because they have achieved high political status largely due to their revolutionary lineage. As it is often the case, says magazine editor Hu Ping, many of them have also become very wealthy along the way.

"They have many ways to get immensely rich, for example, they can monopolize the market and get government procurement contracts. Hu Haifeng, Hu Jintao’s son, is a good example here. He was once the president for Nuctech. In the end of 2006, Nuctech won a government deal to supply airports throughout China with scanners to detect liquid explosives.  In this way, they make a killing and it all looks legal. Inside trading is another way for them to get rich,” he said.

A recent New York Times report says family members of China’s leader Wen Jiabao have accumulated more than $2.7 billion during his tenure as premier.  The wealth is hidden behind layers of investment vehicles in banking, insurance, precious stones, resorts and telecommunications.

Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Hong Lei calls the report “libelous”. "Concerning the report smearing China’s reputation, it has ulterior motives,” the spokesman said.
Other members of the politburo standing committee also have family members with strong business ties.

Current Communist Party Chairman General Secretary Hu Jintao’s son-in-law was formerly the CFO of, one of China’s largest web portals. Estimated wealth in 2003: between $35 million and $60 million.  

Poltiburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun’s son is senior executive of China Mobile, a state-owned telecom giant.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg News reported that the sister and other relatives of future Chinese president Xi Jinping have more than $100 million of family wealth.

All this wealth comes despite the Party’s longtime proclamation that it represents the fundamental interests of the working class of China and premier Wen Jiabao's vow to crack down on corruption.

"In regards to those corrupt members, it doesn’t matter what sector it happens in or who it involves, it doesn’t matter if they hold a high post, all must be severely punished under the law,” he said.

Bo Xilai, son of a party elder, was expected to become a member of the next politburo Standing Committee after the leadership change. But he was thrown out of the party on corruption charges, only after his wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman after a business dispute.

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Comment Sorting
by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 15, 2012 10:50 PM
A government's first job is to keep people safe and to make them rich. CCP did excellent job! Now the challenge is that can CCP keep working as efficient as she did in the last decade?
Let me choose, bread or vote, I will choose bread first. Only when I secured my bread then I ask for vote. I wouldnt do the opposite.
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 21, 2012 12:44 PM
@bill rich from Myanmar, you should say 2 billion Chinese got killed by CCP, isn't that more shocking?
As me myself I never heard any of my relatives from my grandpa was killed by CCP. On the contrary, we still remember how many Chinese being killed by Japanese.
Go to China if you have a chance and ask people if their lost any relatives by CCP's killing. You dont need to believe the propaganda, I dont either from both CCP or west media sides. But you can ask people.
In Response

by: Bill Rich from: Myanmar
November 20, 2012 7:21 PM
CCP is really doing an excellent job of protecting CCP members. In the last 60 years, CCP only managed to kill 80 million Chinese. I wish them luck in the next 60 years to do even better. May be 100 million.
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 19, 2012 12:22 AM
@ chris gao, really? you want to go back to Mao time? China was evenly poor at that time, so you like it? Cuba, NK are evenly poor too, you like it?
Maybe you like it, but I believe majority Chinese dont like being poor including me. That s why I believe majority Chinese still support CCP. When China becomes the first super power then we can start to talk about democracy in China.
In Response

by: chris gao from: China
November 18, 2012 7:57 PM
of course , CCP makes China the second largest economy now in the world. but just like MENG Zi the wise man said nearly a thousand years ago that "what i fear most is not poorness, but unevensness of the money distribution".......
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 17, 2012 6:39 PM
@sun from Taipei. I live in Canada is because Canada is richer than China and I make more money here. It is easy to understand right? You see I care about money, that is exactly why I support communist party because she is making the country rich. I am sure when China is as rich as Canada there will be much less Chinese move to Canada. How many rich Kuwait people want to move to Canada? Even Kuwait is dictatorship.
In Response

by: Sun from: Taipei
November 16, 2012 9:03 PM
@Jonathan Huang, you must be very busy making excuses for what Communist China is doing (wrongdoings). If you love CCP so much (and if you really live in Canada), why not go back to China?
What Chinese nationals have to realize is to get genuine democracy, not nominal democracy. "Wen Jiabao have accumulated more than $2.7 billion during his tenure as premier" --- CCP is the regime only for the privilege class.

by: Aeris from: China
November 15, 2012 2:18 AM
Actually we people care not about their corrupt but that they are actually hurting and harming us with their supreme leadership power. Leaders first and all others second, it's why we students are forced to dance and sing miserably in heavy winds and snows just to please those damned leaders.

by: longman from: canada
November 14, 2012 9:29 PM
The CCP has turned from "serving the people" to being served by people. Its members, especially those with high positions, have taken advantage of their status as well as their connections to benefit their own and their family and friends. It is corrupted and rotten.
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 15, 2012 4:09 PM
longman, so you miss the old CCP? or you miss Mao zedong? Who was serving the people right? But the question is why USA fought with old CCP but is doing businesses with the new CCP who served by people? Does that mean US is evil too?

by: poppy from: amerlia
November 14, 2012 8:27 PM
Well, how about that ! I thought it was the same all over the world, just a different media slant. Capitalism v communism. It is still the rich taking from the poor.

by: ian from: sydney
November 14, 2012 8:18 PM
pointles article. who deosn't know that in china its not what you can do its who you know that counts.

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