A Family Affair: China’s Princelings Are Running Amok. and Bo Xilai Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Yes, the demise of Politburo member Bo Xilai has captured international headlines for exposing how political power and family money melded together in Chongqing, his mist- and smog-shrouded pocket of southwest China. While Bo was reviving Maoist nostalgia on his official’s salary of about $1,600 per month in a country whose per capita income ranks 121st in the world, his son was renting a presidential-style suite at Oxford and driving a Porsche at Harvard. Bo’s elder brother adopted an alias to control $10 million worth of shares at the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of a state-owned bank. And Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, stands accused of being involved in the murder of her English friend Neil Heywood after a falling out over money.
Yet in a Communist Party notorious for nepotism and which refuses to subject itself to any law, the Bo family’s known financial antics were in fact relatively modest. Two of his wife’s sisters are worth upwards of a combined $126 million, according to a Bloomberg investigation. But the fortunes of other powerful political clans almost certainly extend into the billions, as a months-long investigation into the business dealings of one of China’s most prominent families makes clear. Through years of influence-peddling and investing, multiple sources close to him say, the son of a former Chinese vice president managed to place himself at the center of a variety of lucrative deals across all aspects of China’s economy, from coal mines to the stock market to shopping malls, amassing so much money he ended up buying a $32 million family mansion in Australia.