China's Star Princelings
5:07 PM, Jul 14, 2008 • By JENNIFER CHOU
For a long time in China the word "princelings" denoted the pampered, privileged, and frequently unscrupulous children of the country's senior leaders. Over the years, the best, the brightest, and the most trustworthy of these blue-blooded Reds have been fast-tracked to positions of power. A few have demonstrated considerable leadership skills and helped improve the group's image.
Enter the next generation. Xi Mingze, the 16-year-old daughter of vice president Xi Jinping, is reported to have spent a week recently working as a volunteer helping earthquake victims in Sichuan province. Her grandfather Xi Zhongxun was a Long March veteran and a former vice premier.
Wan Baobao is the granddaughter of party elder Wan Li. While her career choice may not embody the family's revolutionary legacy, it most certainly reflects the changing trends in Chinese society today. She is a designer of high-end jewelry. Her father, Wan Jifei, is chairman of the ministry-level China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
Hong Huang, daughter of Mao's recently deceased English-language tutor Zhang Hanzhi and stepdaughter of former foreign minister Qiao Guanhua, is a renowned publisher. The fluent English speaker is also a highly popular blogger. Watch her explain Chinese nationalism on MSNBC here.
The undisputed media darling of this new generation of princelings, however, is Bo Guagua, son of former commerce minister Bo Xilai and grandson of Bo Yibo, one of the Chinese Communist Party's "Eight Immortals."
Bo Guagua is studying PPE at Balliol College, Oxford, on a full scholarship. The photogenic 20-year-old has been featured in Chinese Esquire and is the author of a book, written in English, titled Uncommonwealth. I was unable to get hold of a copy, but Chinese media describe the book as "a critique of the blind pursuit of fads."
In the wake of the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan, Bo Guagua, current president of the Oxford University PPE Society, helped launch a drive to collect donations for the purchase of teaching equipment to be used by makeshift schools in the quake zone.
The young Bo is also an advisor to Oxford Emerging Markets Ltd., a company founded by Oxford undergrads with the aim of exploring investment and career opportunities in emerging markets.
At least some princelings may be emerging as stars in their own right.