Communist party in China facing public anger as corruption gets exposed

Even more interesting considering that both this Economist article and the Bloomberg exposé are currently blocked in China.

 

In recent years China’s leaders have become increasingly concerned that the public’s awareness of the growing wealth gap could lead to social instability. In Beijing, displays of gratuitous overcompensation are a daily reminder that some people, in keeping with a famous dictum of Deng Xiaoping’s, have indeed got rich first. Officials last year even went so far as to try suppressing ads that promote “luxury lifestyles”—lest the have-nots be inspired to rise up and storm the local Lamborghini dealership.

Perhaps even more troubling for the Party is the surge in scepticism over how such wealth seems to find its way into the hands of officials and their families, not to mention into those of their beloved Swiss bankers, English boarding schools and Australian estate agents. Particularly galling are the reports about the great number of officials who have taken to working “naked”. That is to say, many officials are working in China while their wives, children and, presumably, a chunk of the motherland’s money take residence overseas. A report released last year estimated that as much as $120 billion may have been transferred abroad by corrupt officials.

The Chinese media have been given greater freedom to report on corruption and the financial shenanigans of large companies of late. Which makes it all the more striking that reporting on the business activities of the Central Committee’s wives and offspring is still strictly forbidden.

So one can only imagine the consternation caused by yesterday’s sensational exposé by Bloomberg, which details the financial assets belonging to the family of China’s president-in-waiting, Xi Jinping…

More on this storyWealth and power: It’s a family affair

 

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The ousted authoritarian government of Mexico – PRI – may be back

When Mexico’s long-ruling party was ousted by voters 12 years ago, giddy celebrants hailed the event as something like the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had governed virtually unchallenged, aided by election trickery, a well-honed ability to buy off potential troublemakers and, when that didn’t work, an iron fist. Its historic loss in 2000, and its tumble to third place six years later, led some to even imagine a Mexico without the PRI.

Now the PRI is on the verge of an epic comeback. Polls show the party’s presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, holding a double-digit lead over three rivals ahead of the July 1 vote. The party could also end up with majorities in both houses of Congress for the first time in 15 years.

The PRI’s march back from humiliation owes as much to widespread anger over skyrocketing drug violence and an anemic job market as to any lessons learned.

But the possibility of a PRI triumph raises a question now at the heart of the race: What kind of PRI would govern — a cleaned-up, “new PRI” retooled for a modernizing Mexico, or the opaque monolith of yore, with its dark intrigues, rampant graft and authoritarian streak?

 

Keep readingThe fall and rise of Mexico’s PRI

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