Tuesday, December 20, 2011

China's Princelings and the Potential for Violence in 2012

A term we're going to hear a lot of over the next couple years. The great concern is that as  these spoiled and narcissistic little monsters ascend to power they will react to the emerging drive toward democracy with unbridled violence.
From the Wall Street Journal:

China's 'princelings,' the offspring of the communist party elite, are embracing the trappings of wealth and privilege—raising uncomfortable questions for their elders.
One evening early this year, a red Ferrari pulled up at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Beijing, and the son of one of China's top leaders stepped out, dressed in a tuxedo.

Bo Guagua, 23, was expected. He had a dinner appointment with a daughter of the then-ambassador, Jon Huntsman.

The car, though, was a surprise. The driver's father, Bo Xilai, was in the midst of a controversial campaign to revive the spirit of Mao Zedong through mass renditions of old revolutionary anthems, known as "red singing." He had ordered students and officials to work stints on farms to reconnect with the countryside. His son, meanwhile, was driving a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and as red as the Chinese flag, in a country where the average household income last year was about $3,300.

 The episode, related by several people familiar with it, is symptomatic of a challenge facing the Chinese Communist Party as it tries to maintain its legitimacy in an increasingly diverse, well-informed and demanding society. The offspring of party leaders, often called "princelings," are becoming more conspicuous, through both their expanding business interests and their evident appetite for luxury, at a time when public anger is rising over reports of official corruption and abuse of power.

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....MORE 
From HistorySquared:
Social Unrest to Take Center Stage in China
The warnings have been frequent over the past year, beginning with the inaugural “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” back in August 2010. Then there was: 


Then, in “Assume China Will Have a Financial Crises, What’s Next,” I stated “The Party” may be lucky to escape with just a financial crises.

A November story in the WSJ entitled “Why China is Unhappy” provided some color on the current mood of the Chinese people.
  • 40% of Chinese are unhappy with their lives
  • 70% of farmers are unhappy, primarily due to land seizures
  • 60% of the rich are emigrating or considering to do so
Sentiment precedes action: a study on the Egyptian uprising showed negative social mood, as measured by text mining mainstream media, correctly forecasted the insurrection. When combined with various forms of oppression, which by itself is the dominant risk factor in uprisings, you have a tinderbox. China sits 11th most likely to experience an increase in violence against the government, without a financial crises as a factor, according to the Mincord Model


Even the state run newspaper, China Daily, warned of a “crises of confidence” in government. Increasingly, acerbic statements are being leveled at China’s central government, not just the thuggish local governments; people realize the amoral behavior reaches the top rungs.

Factors contributing to the turn in social mood include: inflation, oppression, concentration of wealth in the hands of the connected, better benefits for the political class, and SOE’s getting preferential treatment while entrepreneurs go bankrupt....MORE
Next, HistorySquared again, this time from last April:
China’s Princelings To Usher in New Era of Brutality, says Wang Deng
Wang Den, a leader of the 1989 Tainanmen Square uprising and author of 17 books opined on the future of China’s leadership. The next era of leaders, set to take over in 2012 will usher in a new generation of leaders, derisively called “Princelings.” This generation feels a sense of entitlement, grew up under harsh regimes, and has hardened them. Criticism from the West will be less tolerated, and at home, the crackdown on Artist Ai Weiwei is a tell on what’s to come, says Wang. The arrest “was not a careless mistake on the part of junior officials. On the contrary, it was ordered at the highest levels of power, and it suggests a dark era in China’s political climate has begun.” The crackdown on calls for democracy may backfire, as the people do not have a positive view on Princelings as is, possibly creating an opening for members of Tuuanpi, or the Communist Youth League and their populist thinking.

It would be dangerous to assume that a potential regime change in the wake of an economic fallout automatically would mean more economic freedom is forthcoming....MORE
No kidding 
Meanwhile Breitbart is reporting:
China villagers threaten to march on government offices
Protesting villagers in southern China said they will march on government offices this week unless the body of a local leader is released and four villagers in police custody are freed. 
The 13,000 residents of Wukan, in the wealthy province of Guangdong, are in open revolt against officialdom and have driven out local Communist Party leaders who they say have been stealing their land for years.

Many local businesses have been closed for the past week while schools have been shuttered as riot police blockade the village, which has for months been the scene of occasionally violent protests over land seizures.
Authorities have vowed to crack down on the instigators of the latest unrest, which was triggered by the arrest nine days ago of five villagers, one of whom died last Sunday in police custody....MORE