At Large

Crony Communism

China has come a long way on its long march.

By 12.6.11

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It's not like the old days in China when the top guys in the Communist Party at least pretended to be pro-equality.

Back then, "poor peasants" were encouraged to denounce and kill "rich peasants" for the crime of being too productive, too individualistic or insufficiently enthusiastic about self-sacrifice.

Today in Australia there's a mansion, overlooking Sydney Harbor, that recently sold for $32.4 million. Its new owner is Zeng Wei, 43, the son of Zeng Qinghong, once one of the most powerful men in the Chinese Communist Party.

"Nestled high on a hill," the 100-year-old mansion "boasts some of the best views in the Emerald City," reports the Wall Street Journal. "The street, Wolseley Road, was ranked the ninth most expensive in the world in a survey by Financial News."

Wolseley Road is, as they say, a Great Leap Forward from the pro-redistribution days of Mao when a poor peasant who dared to hide a few grains of his own output from the government collectors in order to make it through the winter without starving faced a penalty of being killed, cooked, butchered and ceremoniously fed to his neighbors (sort of a communion service to celebrate a particularly vicious form of altruism, i.e., eat this in memory of the death of individual liberty) -- or, worse, being force-fed to members of his own family.

All told, an estimated 65 million Chinese were killed by way of murder, massacres, terrorism, executions, imprisonment, torture, civil war, man-made famine, forced labor and hunger in China's long and bloodstained march to collectivism.

Mao's economic incompetence and political fanaticism in implementing the forced collectivization of farming, a ruthless and protracted war against the peasantry, produced the most deadly and murderous famine in history.

There were "banquets at which the families had swapped children in order to eat them," wrote Wei Jingsheng, an 18-year-old Red Guard. "I could see the worried faces of the families as they chewed the flesh of other people's children."

Others, to avoid starvation, were reduced to "searching through horse manure for undigested grains and eating the worms they found in cowpats," reported Jean Pasqualini in Prisoner of Mao.

Not long after his luxury home purchase in Australia, the younger Mr. Zeng applied to local authorities for permission to tear down the old mansion and build a new, multimillion-dollar house with an upper swimming pool with water cascading into a lower pool, forming a waterfall along the new mansion's front.

Within the Communist Party hierarchy, the elder Mr. Zeng, a former vice president of China, was the equivalent of a top fixer on K Street, a key insider who called the shots when it came to directing the flow of money and jobs.

"The elder Mr. Zeng, long the right-hand man to former President Jiang Zemin, was a member of China's peak political body, the Politburo Standing Committee, for five years until 2007," reports the Wall Street Journal. "Before that, he headed the powerful Organization Department, which is responsible for deciding who gets which political posts."

Earlier this year, reported the Journal, "a red Ferrari pulled up at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Beijing, and the son of one of China's top leaders stepped out, dressed in a tuxedo."

The fancy guy in the Ferrari was Bo Guagua, 23, a Harvard graduate student, son of communist politburo member Bo Xilai and grandson of Bo Yibo, a revolutionary leader who helped Mao shoot his way into a position of tyrannical control.

The price of a Ferrari 599 is $410,000. The average household income in China is $64 a week -- often with two or more workers.

Where's the Occupy Beijing gang, outraged at the riches and hypocrisy of those at the top?

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About the Author
Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise and an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.