Great party, thanks for inviting us
Some of us at CER are a little upset about the recent disclosures concerning the familial wealth of certain outgoing top officials. Couldn’t we just have released 10,000 doves from Zhongnanhai and called it a power change? As we wave goodbye to Grandpa Wen and President Hu (whose only known nickname is Hu Dat Big Playa), let us not forget the visionary qualities of these humble leaders – who were so humble that we know almost nothing about them. They did numbers such as “Scientific Development” and “Eight Honors, Eight Shames.” Grandpa Wen frequented disaster sites and wept with the people. Our hearts were warmed. While some incoming officials have recently had chairs broken over their backs, nothing like that ever happened to the last generation of leaders. Why? Because they were the Bob Marleys of the Communist Party – all about harmonious society. This was communism with hippie characteristics. And even though members of elite families may have more bank than Switzerland, who was surprised by this news? Not the Chinese people, who have come to expect cadres of comrades sporting Borsalino fedoras and Patek Philippe watches.
Misery and obfuscation
Living in China is a great exercise in patience. Just think of that feeling you get as you baby step your way down the Great Wall on your October holiday vacation, or when your Google searches result in an error message time and time again (at least somebody is celebrating!). Essential China skills include the foresight to stow away small scraps of paper that will unexpectedly become vital in 17 months and the ability to suppress the urge to throw fen at the people in front of you in line at the bank (oh, the bank). Reading Chinese news can also require a Zen-like composure, whether it’s decoding drool-inducing stories about opinions being solicited on draft legislation ahead of an all-important plenum, or even state coverage of Bo Xilai. This week, Xinhua reported that state prosecutors had “imposed coercive measures” on Bo “in accordance with the law,” probably meaning that he is now formally detained. (Who knows? It’s just the news.) There is a happy side-effect to all this misery and obfuscation, however – Chinese people have wonderful attention spans. When it comes to taking over the world a tiny slice at a time, history may show that China had the advantage.