Revolution to Riches
Bloomberg News series "Revolution to Riches" lifts the veil of secrecy on China's princelings, an elite class that has been able to amass wealth and influence because of their bloodline. Mapping the family trees of China's "Eight Immortals," founding fathers of Communist China who later led the country's economic opening, Bloomberg tracked 103 descendants and spouses -- from the powerful leaders of state-owned conglomerates to their jet-setting, Prada-accessorized grandchildren. The extended family of another princeling, China's new leader Xi Jinping, amassed a fortune in assets and real state, reporting by Bloomberg shows. The identities and business dealings of this red nobility are often hidden behind state censorship and complex corporate webs. To document them, Bloomberg scoured thousands of pages of corporate filings, property records, official websites and archives, and conducted dozens of interviews from China to the United States.
Xi Jinping, the man in line to be China’s next president, warned officials on a 2004 anti-graft conference call: “Rein in your spouses, children, relatives, friends and staff, and vow not to use power for personal gain.”
Lying in a Beijing military hospital in 1990, General Wang Zhen told a visitor he felt betrayed. Decades after he risked his life fighting for an egalitarian utopia, the ideals he held as one of Communist China’s founding fathers were being undermined by the capitalist ways of his children -- business leaders in finance, aviation and computers.
Despite the trappings of middle-class America, Song Zhaozhao is anything but ordinary: She and her siblings are the closest thing China has to aristocracy.
Mapping China's Red Nobility
Bloomberg News mapped the families of Communist China's "Eight Immortals" to reveal the origins of princelings, an elite class that has been able to amass wealth and influence, and exploit opportunities unavailable to most Chinese.
Behind the crimson walls of the former imperial compound that is Beijing’s equivalent of the White House, Communist Party leaders cranked China’s decades-old propaganda machine into overdrive. Tapping a system used to quell public dissent since Mao Zedong’s anointed heir was accused of treason in 1971, apparatchiks distributed internal documents to bring more than 80 million party members into line.
Zong Qinghou, China’s richest man, traveled to Beijing in March to represent his home province at the annual meeting of the country’s legislature. He won’t be going to next month’s Communist Party congress that will unveil China’s new generation of leaders.
Li Wangzhi, the eldest son of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, rejected suggestions he used his father’s position for personal gain and said the downfall of a man he hasn’t seen in five years had destroyed his life.
Among the Citigroup Inc. bankers gathered in Hong Kong on Aug. 11, 2006, with the mayor of the northeastern Chinese city of Tieling to discuss investments in an industrial park was the son of a powerful China princeling.
The sisters of Gu Kailai, who is suspected of murdering a U.K. citizen and is the wife of disgraced Chinese official Bo Xilai, controlled a web of businesses from Beijing to Hong Kong to the Caribbean worth at least $126 million, regulatory and corporate filings show.
The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.
Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai, were among China’s most powerful couples. He was the Communist Party boss in the mega-city of Chongqing and she was described as the Jackie Kennedy of China. Over the years, their extended families built a fortune of at least $136 million. Then it all came crashing down. In April, he was ousted from the Party and is under investigation. She was arrested on suspicion of the murder of a British businessman who was a family friend. Their wealth is under scrutiny. Here is a look at their business empire.