The Hidden Riches Accumulated by China’s Leadership

This is interesting. A cat fight has broken out between two State media mouthpieces. The fight began on October 26th when the New York Times published an article on the family wealth of Wen Jiabao. The outgoing Prime Minister’s family controls assets worth $2.7 billion, according to the New York Times.

The article details the usual list of cosy deals and contracts that reserved for connected insiders and family elites in all cultures throughout all time. On the face of it, the story is neither new nor particularly surprising. It’s the timing that’s interesting.

China is in the middle of a leadership transition. It’s been as opaque and shady as you’d expect from the ruling Communist cadres. An in-depth expose on the routine graft, corruption, and favouritism at the highest levels is exactly what the Party would be hoping to avoid right now, when it’s aiming for maximum credibility with the Chinese people.

The People’s Daily — the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party — hit back two days ago with its own op-ed about the decline in standards at the New York Times. It cited past plagiarism scandals and talked about the New York Times’ deteriorating reputation. It also accused the New York Times of faking and fabricating news.

In an amusing sidenote, the Financial Times reports that the People’s Daily op-ed accusing the New York Times of plagiarism is, itself, almost entirely plagiarised from a melange of previous articles. There is no honour among propagandists. But what really is going on here?

The New York Times story is the third major story this year in the Western press about the ‘hidden riches’ accumulated by China’s leadership. Is this information war at work? Is the New York Times cooperating with the US State Department or merely doing crack investigative journalism?

Perhaps the Chinese are being a bit thin skinned. If you want to be the world’s number one economy and emerging superpower, you have to deal with the haters too. Welcome to the club. Besides, the People’s Daily could have easily pointed out the history of dynastic power succession in American politics (the Kennedys, the Bushs, the Clintons). Oligarchy goes beyond national borders these days.

The Australian take on this will be interesting, given that we’re now officially living in the Asian Century (a term that’s less threatening than the Chinese Century). James Packer becomes the latest Australian businessman to talk his own book by telling everyone to let up on the China bashing. Packer will give a speech in Canberra in which he instructs paid political servants to ‘stop treating China like it’s the Cold War’.

He’s right, of course. It’s not the Cold War. It’s the Code War.

And finally, some reader mail.

“In the meantime, let’s ask a really important question: do intelligent people drink more beer?”

Dear Dan,

I believe that the answer was aired in an episode of that great 1982 “documentary” on bar life named “Cheers” in an exchange between the proverbial “font of knowledge” Cliff and bar fly Norm-

Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

All that is left to say on the matter is-

prost; salud; sant’e; i sveikata; Iechyd da !!

Avid DR reader


Dan Denning
for Markets and Money

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The Lost Generation in the US Economy
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Dan Denning
Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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3 Comments on "The Hidden Riches Accumulated by China’s Leadership"

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War isn’t good for business. Lodge admitted the same as an obstacle he had to overcome when he was conspiring to seize Cuba from the Spanish. It was an obstacle that didn’t stop them. The third story about riches accumulated by the Chinese leadership? Even the NYT article didn’t claim that in respect of Wen as Dan does indirectly. Toward the bottom he was said by the NYT to have disparaged his relatives for the same. Past the jingoism, lets give the Chinese the right of reply as to what is going on, at least the NYT does afford that:… Read more »
“” Is this information war at work? Is the New York Times cooperating with the US State Department or merely doing crack investigative journalism? “‘ In answer to that question: As a daily reader of the NYT it must be said they have been covering these very same issues in great detail for years – Whereas here in Australia there’s hardly a whiff of investigative reporting, let alone real knowledge of what makes China tick. More to point, on these depthy issues, we in Australia recycle what others have written(provided it sells in our media pages). As a consequence, Australian… Read more »
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