[Note: The following is a Tea Leaf Nation op-ed, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the editors.]
One might think that Beijing’s recent austerity drive, its professed rejection of hedonism, and the downfall of Bo Xilai would cool Communist apparatchiks’ ardor to pursue the good life by any means necessary. But recent revelations about life in China’s fast line have led me to a very different conclusion: When I grow up, I want to be the son of a Chinese government official.
After all, who doesn’t want to drive 120 miles per hour in a black Ferrari at 4:00 a.m. on a Beijing ring road with two naked Tibetans? Exotic cars, exclusive designer clothes, extravagant watches and piles of cash — I could spend more money in one night out in Shanghai than others can earn in a year. Insanely expensive private jets, yachts, and helicopters are pretty cool, too.
Lavish parties in Hainan are another big draw. Downing bucket loads of exquisite caviar and the finest champagne with special celebrity guests and 200 of my closest friends from other powerful political families sounds pretty irresistible. Perhaps it’s a little over-the-top, but when the day comes I want the People’s Liberation Army Marching Band to play Happy Birthday for me.
Overseas vacations are a must as well. Cuba, Argentina, the family villa in France, Africa — just think, I can send my dad a big piece of meat from a rare animal! The first place I’m heading is Anguilla, wherever that is. If Jay-Z likes it, so do I.
With all that in-your-face opulence, I would need some protection, especially from all those beggars spitting on me and shouting something about income disparity. I’m told that tiny, unimposing female bodyguards who can put down a threat with one or two well-placed blows are very popular with the entitled minority.
But there’s more to being the son of a Chinese government official than just extraordinary wealth, wanton nepotism, and blatant disregard for all below my station. There are practical considerations as well.
For example, once I’m a member of the privileged elite, I’ll get a Get Out of Jail Free card. I don’t think I’ll ever need it, but one never knows where too much Maotai might lead. Another fringe benefit is the automatic “scholarship” I get to my choice of Harvard or Yale, schools whose tuition my dad could never afford on his meager US$1,600 per month state salary.
Best of all, if I’m crazy enough to want to work after I graduate, I can have any job I want. My employer won’t have to be at a stodgy old Chinese state-owned enterprise either. I hear snagging a cushy gig at investment bank JPMorgan is no problem.
I know what you’re thinking. Read my lips: not all family fortunes amassed by Chinese government officials come from influence-peddling, bribery, and graft. No less than Minxin Pei, an expert on governance in the People’s Republic of China, praises the skills of Chinese government officials in ensuring their family’s futures. He writes that their collective efforts equal at least three percent of China’s gross domestic product.
Pei refers to these achievements as “widespread corruption,” which he sees as among the most serious threats to China’s future economic and political stability. That guy is a million laughs.