A Rising Princeling: Deng Xiaoping’s Grandson

The appointment of Deng Zhuodi, grandson of Deng Xiaoping. (Image: KanZhongGuo.com)
The appointment of Deng Zhuodi, grandson of Deng Xiaoping. (Image: KanZhongGuo.com)

Deng Zhuodi, grandson of Deng Xiaoping, was named the party chief of Xin’an, a township administrated by Pingguo County. Deng Xiaoping, who died in 1997, was widely credited for leading China’s reform and opening process in the 1980s, and negotiating Hong Kong’s return to the mainland. He has also been blamed for cracking down on protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Deng Zhifang, father of Deng Zhuodi, was involved in the SCG Trading Co., Ltd. corruption scandal in the 1990s. Zhifang conspired with Zhou Beifang, the son of senior official Zhou Guanwu, to make illegal land deals, secret payoffs, and embezzlement of public funds. Zhou Beifang was sentenced to death with a reprieve, while Deng Zhifang was forced to quit politics.

The official announcement has drawn much attention for descendants of former state leaders, known as princelings on the mainland, working as a low ranking official in rural areas has become an obligatory rite of passage to higher office.

Deng is among several of the third and fourth generation descendants of the founding fathers of the People’s Republic that have assumed public office. President Xi Jinping, son of a former deputy premier Xi Zhongxun, one of the founders of the Party who was later persecuted by Chairman Mao Zedong, also started his career in a village. Premier Li Keqiang is the son of an official who worked at the grass root level in the Chinese Communist Party and the government. Mao Xinyu, Mao Zedong’s grandson, was promoted to become the country’s youngest major general in 2010.

Deng Zhuodi was born in the United States, and is an American citizen. After graduating from Duke University in 2008, he worked as a lawyer’s assistant for a New York law firm. He lived in a high end New York apartment and drove a Mercedes.

Deng Xiaoping (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Deng Xiaoping. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

In September 2011, Deng Zhuodi was accused of sexual harassment at the law firm where he worked, and eventually reached a $200,000 private settlement with the victim, a Chinese student. He resigned after the scandal and returned to China to pursue a career in politics.

The appointment of Deng Zhuodi exposed an unspoken rule of the Chinese Communist Party, that is, that the children of officials above a certain level can take leading roles right away. It may take five years for children from ordinary families to be promoted to such positions.

Pingguo County has a population of over half a million and is a two hour drive northwest of Nanning, the capital of the autonomous region. It is known as the “home of aluminum in southern China” because of its rich aluminium mineral reserves. Deng Zhuodi takes charge of important tasks, such as reform measures, commodity prices, government laws, agricultural projects, and poverty alleviation.

So why did the grandson of Deng Xiaoping give up his comfortable life in New York to become the party chief of Xin’an? Some believe that Deng Zhuodi actually has more power than his superiors due to his background, and thus has “extra political influence” to make more money, occupy a position of authority in the hierarchy of the modern Chinese government, and to protect the illegal income of the Deng family.

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