Corruption related to Chinese officials’ children is the main source of public “dissatisfaction”

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing, The Financial Times, Mar. 12, 2010-

China’s former state auditor has identified the business dealings of Communist officials’ children as the main source of public “dissatisfaction” in an online broadcast by the People’s Daily newspaper, the official Communist party mouthpiece.

Li Jinhua, vice-chairman of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former long-serving auditor general of the National Audit Office, also called for better legal structures and greater supervision over the business dealings of officials and their children.

“From the numerous cases currently coming to light, we can see that many corruption problems are transacted through sons and daughters [of officials],” Li Jinhua said in the online forum on Thursday. Mr Li is widely respected for his role as China’s top anti-corruption official between 1998 and 2008.

He said the rapidly growing wealth of Communist officials’ children and family members “is what the public is most dissatisfied about”.

A recent online opinion poll conducted by the People’s Daily found that 91 per cent of respondents believe all rich families in China have political backgrounds.

The children of China’s top leaders are often referred to as “princelings”. Many have been educated in the west and have extensive business dealings in China.

But it is unusual for senior officials and the party’s own mouthpiece to discuss the issue of nepotism and corruption in such a public way as the subject is regarded as potentially destabilising in a one-party state where the leadership lacks a democratic mandate.

“This is a broadside against those members of the party who are using the organisation for their own private purposes,” said Russell Moses, a Beijing-based analyst of Chinese politics. “It could also very well be the opening salvo of a more robust political campaign against certain parts of the party.”

Accusations of nepotism and special privileges for the children of China’s elite became rallying cries in the student protests of 1989, which ended in the bloody military crackdown centred on Tiananmen Square in Beijing……(more details from The Financial Times)