By Nancy Macdonald - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - 0 Comments
The biggest buzz from the Communist Party’s meeting was around the yawns
Photos of bored Chinese Communist delegates at a pivotal party meeting went viral last week, before quickly disappearing from social media. Yawning party loyalists, after all, don’t fit with the official excitement surrounding Beijing’s once-in-a-decade leadership turnover.
In fairness, the 18th party congress, which ended Thursday, was hardly heady stuff. Decisions were made months in advance, and the names of the top leadership—including Xi Jinping, who replaces Hu Jintao as head of the Chinese Communist Party—have been known for years. Apparatchiks were just going through the motions.
But that didn’t stop an aura of paranoia from sweeping Beijing. Officials, spooked by falling growth rates, corruption scandals and the children of Communist politicians crashing Ferraris, ramped up security ahead of the handover. The sale of knives was banned in the capital. Buying a toy plane—which could have seditious messages attached to it—required a police chief’s permission. Cabbies were ordered to lock their back windows to prevent passengers from handing out political pamphlets. And in Tiananmen Square, guards carried fire extinguishers to stop Tibetan monks from lighting themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule. Still, in places, dissidents did turn out to protest; scores of them were hauled off by security agents. Continue…
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 7:05 PM - 0 Comments
Their richest lawmakers make the U.S. Congress look poor
For all the concern over income inequality in the U.S., activists may want to turn their attention to China, whose growing list of billionaire politicians makes the U.S. Congress look practically impoverished.
Last year, the richest 70 members of China’s legislature, the 3,000-seat National People’s Congress, added $11.5 billion to their net worth, according to Shanghai’s Hurun Report. That increase is more, on its own, than the total net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the President, his cabinet and all nine Supreme Court justices combined. Bloomberg estimates the top 600 U.S. officials are worth about $7.5 billion. That’s no small potatoes in a country constantly accusing its politicians of being out of touch with the middle class. But it’s peanuts compared to China, where the richest six dozen lawmakers had a net worth totalling nearly $90 billion. While Mitt Romney’s vast fortune, estimated at $200 million, has become an obsession, he would practically be a pauper in China’s legislature. Zong Qinghou, its richest lawmaker, is estimated to be worth $5.6 billion.