China's 'Princelings' Rolling in Cash, Power

Relatives of top leaders enjoy 'Red Nobility'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 18, 2012 2:40 PM CDT
China's Premier Wen Jiabao. His son is doing well in business.   (AP Photo/Petar Kujundzic, Pool)

(Newser) – The wealth of Bo Xilai's family members was no anomaly. Known as "princelings," close relatives of many Chinese leaders are on a fast track to fortune and power, the New York Times reports. The president's son used to head a company with a security-scanner monopoly; the prime minister's son runs a state-owned satellite communications firm that claims it will soon be the biggest on the continent; the son-in-law of another elite official was key to a deal behind the record-breaking IPO of a state-operated bank.

"Whenever there is something profitable that emerges in the economy, they’ll be at the front of the queue," says an expert. "They’ve gotten into private equity, state-owned enterprises, natural resources—you name it." Companies happily tout their ties to such figures. The princelings' wealth and influence may be won legally, but it's tough to tell, the Times notes: Their paths to fortune aren't made public. China is increasingly concerned about public perception of what has become a giant "Red Nobility," but don't expect a crackdown: To reveal the ties between business and politics would mean "a tsunami," says an analyst. Click through for the full piece. (Read more China stories.)

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