neo-NEP in China

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Mon Jul 17 07:58:52 MDT 1995


Louis Proyect:

BEIJING, China -- Late last year, when Wang Jun opened China's
first business club, in a skyscraper high above this city's glittering
night lights, the elite flocked to sip champagne and offer
congratulations.

But few exuded the warmth of Xiao Rong, the youngest daughter of
China's paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping. While other guests politely
shook hands with Mr. Wang, a gruff engineer-turned-financier, Ms.
Xiao kissed him on one cheek, then prompted her 15-year-old
daughter to "give Daddy a kiss" on the other.

Ms. Xiao and Mr. Wang aren't related but their families are close.
More than four decades ago, Mr. Deng and Mr. Wang's father fought
in the revolution to bring communism to China. Their descendants
remain tight: Wang Jun, who runs China International Trust &
Investment Corp., or Citic, is a business and golfing partner of Ms.
Xiao's husband; Ms Xiao's brother-in-law heads several Citic
subsidiaries; and Mr. Wang's niece works for Ms. Xiao's property
company.

Family ties have always mattered in China, but never so much as
today. In the so-called classless society of the past, one leader reigned
supreme; everybody else lived in relative equality, which usually
meant poverty. Now, with decentralization of control and growing
economic opportunities, power in China is being diffused. As the
nation is prospering, so are the children of the revolutionaries who
founded the Communist Party.

This small group claims a major hold on the power, wealth and
opportunity that elude most of China's 1.2 billion people. Members of
these loose, family-based alliances lead lives of privilege: attending the
right schools, making the right friends, securing the right jobs--and
staying far from the limelight to avoid criticism of their lifestyles.

All this makes China's ongoing leadership transition look ever more
like a shift from a dictatorship of one--Mao Tse Tung or Mr. Deng--to
rule by a Latin American-style oligarchy of powerful families.

(From "Family Matters", Wall Street Journal, page 1, July 17, 1995)


SHENZEN, China -- Like his country, 11-year-old Yang Yungjiang is
facing a crisis of values.

He ran away from his village two years ago, winding up in this boom
town bordering Hong Kong because he heard "it was fun." Now, he
spends days hanging around a video-game arcade, smoking cheap
cigarettes and avoiding pimps and prostitutes. At night, he sleeps in
abandoned buildings or on the streets. With other children, he steals
and sells aluminum siding from construction sites. Once he swiped a
bicycle and was caught by the police, who beat him.

"I've seen a lot," Yungjiang says, a grin spreading across his broad,
freckled face. "My parents told me it was wrong to steal. But I didn't
steal anything at home." Now, he says, "I can't figure out if there's good
or bad."

In a nominally Communist society built on social controls, such
breakdowns ought to be rare. They aren't. As China charges ahead with
economic changes, tens of millions of Chinese are on the move, leaving
behind roots--and beliefs--in search of opportunity, faith in the equality
of socialism is vanishing. What has replaced it is an obsession with
money.

(From "Undoing Tradition", Wall Street Journal, page 1, May 2, 1995)


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