Chinese Communist Party

 

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I mean that literally. Check out the picture of the incoming members of the politburo standing committee. Those ties! Those suits! That hair parting.

If, as my colleagues point out today, the reduction in membership of China’s ruling committee from nine to seven is “an effort to make collective decision-making less contentious and more efficient”, this gives new meaning to the idea of sartorial unity. They may not be wearing an official uniform, but the look is… well, uniform.

The only slight blip in the batter comes courtesy of Wang Qishan, the new anti-corruption chief (that’s him in the blue tie, bottom second from left). Draw whatever conclusions you want about his small effort to stand alone.

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The Olympics are on our doorstep, but we’re still picking up interesting articles from around the world:

The wealth of China’s “princelings” is growing, leading to fears that the political elite are profiting while the mass of ordinary Chinese are left behind. Increasingly, doing business in China depends on gaining the approval of a small number of hugely influential figures. FT reporters have run an investigation into the business activities of these people. This fact-packed graphic featured in today’s paper reveals the details of those top politicians and their family members, their business interests and the fortunes they have amassed. You can also access our online interactive version here.

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Bo Xilai with his wife Gu Kailai

Not so long ago, Bo Xilai was one of China’s “princelings”, a charismatic, high-flying politician who was apparently destined for its top leadership. From his power base in Chongqing he became known for smashing organised crime, increasing foreign investment and running “revolutionary” campaigns involving singing contests and the revival of Maoist symbols.

But when in February a mafia-busting former police chief called Wang Lijun walked into the US consulate in the western city of Chengdu, he set in train a series of events that brought scandal and infighting out of the secret confines of Chinese party politics and into the public eye. The result was Mr Bo’s spectacular fall from grace and the arrest of his wife Gu Kailai – herself the daughter of a top general – on suspicion of murdering the British citizen Neil Heywood. Read more

David Pilling

China’s definition of what constitutes its “core interest” appears to be spreading. Such interests used to be confined to a few areas, about which the Communist party would brook absolutely no dissenting view. These included its national security, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Tibet, where there is a strong separatist element, quite obviously forms part of China’s definition of territorial integrity. So does the island of Taiwan, ceded to Japan in 1895, and now a self-governed democracy. Beijing has made clear that, if Taiwan were ever to declare formal independence, it would invade. More recently, the term has been applied to Xinjiang, the huge area of western China that has been the scene of clashes between local Muslims and Han Chinese. Read more