This makes an interesting read. In a country where guanxi and connections are paramount, would it be a surprise if the ones best connected will turn out the wealthiest? What is even more interesting is the argument whose sources of information are truly legitimate? From what this article says, these source of information look legitimate enough!
Highlights – “...3,220 people had personal assets in mainland China, not including overseas assets, surpassing 100 million yuan (US$14.65 million). Of these, 2,932 – or 91 percent – were children of senior officials or party cadres.”
Chinese officials deny wealth concentration
By S L Shen
Source – UPI Asia, 3 December 2009
Beijing, China — Four Chinese newspapers were recently censured for reporting that wealth in China is highly centralized in the hands of a few rich people and the children of high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party. State authorities declared that such stories were “fake,” and state media accused them of quoting data fabricated by “anti-China” websites overseas.
However, most Chinese netizens in online posts have tended to believe the so-called “fake news” on this matter. Also, this is not the first time such “fake stories” have appeared. Many are wondering why Chinese authorities have not reacted to such reports until now.
The controversial figures, reportedly from official researchers, include a claim that 70 percent of China’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 0.4 percent of the population, and that 91 percent of China’s top millionaires are children of high-ranking officials.
In fact, these claims first appeared in the Shanghai Securities News three years ago, on Oct 20, 2006. The authorities were silent at that time. But when two local newspapers – Time Weekly and Youth Times – along with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Press, cited this information last June, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication claimed it was false, misleading the public and causing negative social influence.
The figures have already spread widely through online forums and blogs, however. Most claim that Chinese authorities are the source of the data.
Another story that appeared in the China Youth Press on Oct. 18, 2006, cited the Boston Consulting Group as the source of the study stating that that 0.4 percent of the population controlled 70 percent of the wealth in China. That study, part of a worldwide study of household wealth, found there were about 250,000 households in mainland China worth over US$1 million.
At that time, Zheng Junhao, vice president of the group’s Beijing Office, told the media that this figure didn’t take into account all types of assets, but it was basically accurate. The group published an updated study in mid-November saying that the number of millionaire households would likely reach 450,000 by the end of this year.
The 2006 report in the Shanghai Securities News was actually written by Professor Zhao Xiao from the School of Economics and Management at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing. He pointed out that the “capital of power” led to huge differences in the income levels of ordinary citizens and the children of senior officials.
More specifically, Zhao cited research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in July, 2004 on social mobility in contemporary China, which indicated that the likelihood for children of Chinese Communist Party cadres to take up party posts was 2.1 times higher than other people.
Also, he cited another study compiled by the research offices of the State Council, the Central Party School, the Propaganda Department of the CCP Central Committee and CASS in late March, 2004. This study said that 3,220 people had personal assets in mainland China, not including overseas assets, surpassing 100 million yuan (US$14.65 million). Of these, 2,932 – or 91 percent – were children of senior officials or party cadres.
These figures were published the same day on the website of the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The content was later deleted.
In early August this year, People’s Daily published a report denying the 91 percent figure. Some analysts said the Chinese authorities sensed a growing threat from opinions posted on the Internet, and were eager to play down the polarization between rich and poor for fear it would lead to confrontation.
In late August, the four official bodies named by Professor Zhao issued a statement denying that they had conducted a study on the ratio of children of senior officials or party cadres among China’s millionaires. They said the false figures were deliberately made up and posted on anti-China websites overseas.
Zan Aijun, an independent critic and former reporter, questioned why the authorities did not quash this “false report” when the Shanghai Securities News first published it in 2006. The newspaper is subordinate to Xinhua, which means its contents should have been approved before publication, Zan pointed out. If this information were untruthful, he asked, why did it take such a long time to censure the media that reported it?
Chinese netizens are more inclined to believe the “false” statistics than the official denials, however. Some have satirized the official statement refuting the research about officials’ children by responding, “False? Are you saying the ratio is not 91 percent but actually higher?”