The Gucci Maoists

Bloomberg’s excellent reporters have written two stories detailing what is probably a small fraction of the wealth accumulated by Bo Xilai, Gu Kailai and their families–China Murder Suspect’s Sisters Ran $126 Million Empire and  Bo Xilai Clan Links Included Citigroup Hiring of Elder Son. So far there have been no exposes of Gu Kailai’s shoe and handbag collections, but you can be sure they are substantial.

A hundred million dollars is a lot of money for someone who is supposedly an advocate of restoring Maoist values to China.

I never bought the argument that Bo actually believed his ideological demagoguery. It seemed clear his was a populist power play, a means to an end rather than a true desire to bring back Maoism and launch Cultural Revolution 2.0. We may see more evidence of this if there is truth to the rumors that many of the prominent Chinese intellectual supporters of the “Chongqing Model” were on Bo’s payroll.

By many accounts Chongqing citizens like Bo Xilai appreciate what he did for them. In Behind a Chinese City’s Growth, Heavy Debt the Wall Street Journal examines how Bo pushed Chongqing deep into debt to pay for all the programs that helped buy his local approval. Who wouldn’t like a politician who raises your standard of living and almost gives money away, regardless of the future debt burden and the occasional, or more than occasional, skimming off the top for clan and cronies?

Some analysts argue China has two main political factions–Princelings and Communist Youth Leaguers. Bo Xilai is a princeling, but perhaps he represented a third way–the Gucci Maoists?

Follow me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop.

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  • http://twitter.com/LongShortTrader Dani El

    The colorful and contentious hedge fund manager liked to refer to their western counterparts as ‘champagne socialists’

  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    do journalists only do this type of investigation when a story blows up in their faces? 

    is it because they might lose their visas?

    bo’s bank account was the same six months ago as now, but no one wrote about it?

    could this type of research and reporting be a constant now, going into the future? or is the idea not to rock the boat?