lørdag 16. oktober 2021

An insider’s view of China’s Communist Party: Corruption and capitalist excess

In recent months, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, has been promoting a new ideological-political framework called “common prosperity.” On the surface, the campaign is directed at blunting, even reversing, China’s pronounced income inequality. As Xi told Chinese officialsearly this year, “We cannot let an unbridgeable gulf appear between the rich and the poor.”

Some observers see this as a striking move to the left by Xi as he pursues a controversial third term as Communist Party leader next year. Sensing the mounting frustration of Chinese citizens as they navigate the social tensions sparked by new technologies and the proliferating number of billionaires who created them, Xi might be tacking back to the party’s socialist roots to shore up its legitimacy, not to mention his own political future.

This view is hard to sustain after reading Desmond Shum’s remarkable new memoir, “Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China.” The Chinese Communist Party depicted in Shum’s firsthand account is the epitome of capitalist excess, with the sons and daughters of high-ranking party officials going on global shopping and gambling sprees, spending the vast sums their parents and relatives amassed through rampant corruption, influence-peddling, ruthless political maneuvering and backstabbing.