Is hereditary monarchy making a comeback in China? Chinese netizens ask

Alia | May 10th, 2013 - 3:51 am

Princelings, or what the Chinese call “second-generation Red”, has been a buzz word in China for a good two years now. By its name, these people are descendants of prominent and influential senior communist officials, the Red generation who have experienced war and contributed to the rise of the new communist China.

Bo Xilai, disgraced Chinese politician who was at the center of much political drama last year, is one of the second-generation Red. China’s new president, Xi Jinping, who dreamed about governing the country since an early age, is also one of them.  Of course, there is also the grand-daughter of Mao Zedong, who now ranks 242th on China’s rich list just recently released by New Fortune.

Many of China’s key industries and state-owned enterprises are either under direct control of the families of the second-generation Red, or are linked with them one way or another. Though there are doubts about second-generation Red taking power of the country and criticism of them living a privileged life, people are, relatively speaking, more tolerate of them staying in power and status. It’s sad to say so, but people are used to it. After all, their parents are the founding fathers of this country.

However, a couple of recent news on third-generation Red and second-generation officials (descendants of ordinary government officials) start to make people question the overall legitimacy of these born-with-power generations.

Deng Zhongdi

First, there is Deng Zhuodi, grandson of China’ reform architect Deng Xiaoping. As a Duke University law school graduate, he was named the deputy head of Pingguo County in the province of Guangxi earlier this month. And he is only 28 years old. Many netizens compared him with China’s current big boss Xi Jinping and speculated that he is China’s future president in making. The biggest shadow over his career, however, is his citizenship – he was born in the US, which under US law makes him an American.

Then, there is Ye Zhonghao, great-grandson of China’s late Marshal Ye Jianjing. Nine months after working as the secretary of the Communist Youth League Committee in Yunfu, Guangdong province, the 30-year-old was recently named a member of the league’s provincial committee. He is the first fourth-generation Red to make a major presence on the country’s political stage.

Many netizens sighed: “They are born with a silver crown.” Once your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents are one of the Red, you family will always stay in the ruling class. Netizen 邬辉林律师 commented: “Second-generation Red is taking over the country. Third and fourth-generation Red start to emerge on the political stage. Their every step is carefully planned, requiring no effort from them. They have a higher starting point and thus a shorter track to run. More importantly, they can change track at will.” Another netizen 陆伟民律师 asked: “People at the end of the hierarchy have no hope. Is this what we got after 30 years of reform?”

Netizens’ outcry became even louder when news came out that even the offspring of low-ranking officials got to enjoy the privilege of a kick-started career (in fact, more like leap-started).

Jiang Zhongyong, who was born in 1984, jumped from an ordinary office clerk to the deputy head of Jiedong County in the province of Guangdong in a matter of only 4 years. He was only 27 years old when he was “elected” to his currently post in 2011. And guess what, his father Jiang Junqu once sat at the same position. He literally took over the job from the hands of his father.

Jiang is not alone. Wang Qing, who was born in 1982, was “elected” the deputy mayor of Leiyang, Hunan province last year. Her father formerly worked as the city’s mayor. To make things worse, neither of them disclosed their resumes online, like all the other officials do. When inquired by netizens, their corresponding government either said that they were too busy to update their resumes online or that they had too many resumes and paper work to go through. Needless to say, no one bought into these excuses.

Is China actually a capitalist country run by a feudalistic party who claims that they are practicing socialism? At least that’s the question many Chinese netizens have after reading these news. Like one netizen 随机阅读机器人 commented: “ Isn’t this one of the things that count as special Chinese characteristics?”

Hereditary monarchy isn’t new to the Chinese people. They overthrew their last emperor just some 100 years ago. But decades after the eradication of class and feudalism rule (as said in textbooks), “title still passes on from fathers to sons,” as netizen 匡匡吉子 put it.

“We thought we could expect a Gorbachev. But it turns out they [officials] are more like North Korea’s Kim family,” sighed one netizen. The Chinese dream, which has been at the center of government propaganda since Xi took power, is only but a dream to the ordinary people.


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  10. What you explained was not the return of the hereditary Monarchy, but the establishment of an oligarchy. There is no Monarch – single ruler – emerging (or at least not a visible one at the moment), but the princelings. But that is the opposite from a hereditary Monarchy.

    Pu Zhiqiang, a civil rights lawyer living in China and executive partner of Beijing Huayi Law Firm, compared today’s China with the thousands of years Emperors ruled the country. In comparison with the Communist oligarchy the Emperors win not only on moral grounds:

    “China’s emperors won their power through war and slaughter but they also believed in morality. They cared for what others thought and what their descendants or future generations would think. But in today’s China, liars are accepted, judges can be bribed, evil-doers are encouraged and officials can serve the devil.”

    Daniel Bell, US professor of political theory at Tsinghua University in Beijing, gave an interesting look into his students’ thinking:

    “One of my graduate students told me that she was dismayed by the uncritical coverage of the inauguration [of US president Obama], the kind of love-fest for a political leader that could only make the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party envious. We discussed, only half-jokingly, the possibility that China should adopt some form of constitutional monarchy, so that the public could project its emotions on a symbolic leader while evaluating the de facto political leader’s performance more rationally.”

    A Constitutional Monarch could be a counter weight against the rising tide of the princelings.

  11. [...] via Is hereditary monarchy making a comeback in China? Chinese netizens ask | Offbeat China. [...]

  12. [...] system in China is more and more like a hereditary monarchy, said Chinese netizens. Off Beat China summarized the [...]

  13. [...] system in China is more and more like a hereditary monarchy, said Chinese netizens. Off Beat China summarized the discussion. [...]

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