The Hurun Report, known for its monthly reporting on China’s richest people, published a special article on April 19, saying that in the 15 years since it has been tracking China’s wealthiest people, 27 of them or 1.2 percent have been jailed.
In total, 65 charges were made, and over half of the billionaires were imprisoned for more than10 years. The three main charges were corruption and bribery, property violations, and disrupting the managerial order of companies and enterprises.
Political commentator Lan Su believes that the Communist Party has destroyed traditional Chinese culture, and its moral constraints. Speaking with New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television, he said, “Chinese society is full of corrupt officials nowadays. Any decent-sized business has to deal with the authorities. How do you balance the books when working with corrupt cadres–with gray income or gray expenses?”
Lan said hardly anyone in the Party is upright, and even the anti-corruption campaign targets political opponents. So rich businessmen with the wrong connections are sacrificed during the Party’s internal struggles.
Take Huang Guangyu as an example. Huang topped the Hurun rich list in 2005, but was sentenced to 14 years for bribery, insider trading, and running an illegal business. State Council sources revealed his case was actually aimed at overthrowing former assistant minister of public security Zheng Shaodong, and former security tsar Zhou Yongkang through the coordinated efforts of public security minister Meng Jianzhu and former premier Wen Jiabao.
Chinese affairs commentator Li Shan Jian told NTD:
“The rich Chinese phenomenon only emerged in recent years, not because they are extremely smart or capable, and not through inherited wealth either. They have become so wealthy mostly through the collusion of money with power, through improper means.”
Shanxi businesswoman Ding Shumiao was indicted for bribing former Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun to the tune of 49 million yuan ($7.86 million), and for collecting illegal operating funds of 178.8 billion yuan ($28.66 billion).
Former Shanghai billionaires Zhou Zhengyi and Zhang Rongkun became hugely rich almost overnight due to their relationship with top officials and their relatives, such as former Shanghai Party chief Chen Liangyu, then vice premier Huang Ju, and former Party leader Jiang Zemin.
Researcher Lu Peng from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences looked at Chinese billionaires on the Hurun Report and Forbes rich list between 2003 and 2012. Lu found 15.6 percent of these individuals’ fathers were cadres in the Party or enterprise units. For example, Chinese tycoon Rong Zhijian ‘s father, Rong Yiren, was vice president from 1993 to 1998; China’s richest person Wang Jianlin’s father was once vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Commentator Li Shan Jian points out that the real rich Chinese are the “Red Family,” whose assets are difficult to value and are hidden from outsiders.
Bloomberg reported in 2012 that three children alone–General Wang Zhen ‘s son, Wang Jun; Deng Xiaoping ‘s son-in-law, He Ping; and Chen Yuan, the son of Mao ‘s economic tsar, Chen Yun–headed or still run state-owned companies with combined assets of about $1.6 trillion in 2011.
This year, international media exposed the Party’s “Red Nobility” ownership of offshore companies used to transfer and hide huge assets. It is estimated that up to $4 trillion in “untraced assets” may have left China since 2000.