China’s Panama Paper tigers

The running dogs of capitalism have come home to China's Politburo; according to the Panama Papers, the Politburo has turned into a kennel.


WASHINGTON, April 7, 2016 — The man in the finely tailored suit said his subordinates had no choice but to attend disciplinary courses intended to “mold a troop of officials that are as strong as iron in belief, faith … and a sense of responsibility.”

China’s President Xi Jinping.
China’s President Xi Jinping

China’s President Xi Jinping announced that functionaries of his nation’s one-party state must be re-educated in the ways of communism as devised by party “researchers” who have built a curriculum based on a “Marxist party building theory system” to “ensure the Party’s unwavering core leadership in building socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The problem with Chinese communism, in other words, is that it’s starting to look a lot like “running dog” capitalism, albeit with a totalitarian twist.

President Jinping’s brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, is embroiled in the “Panama Papers” scandal. He is one of many Chinese officials and their family members tagged as clients of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialized in concealing their clients’ fortunes in dummy corporations established in off-shore tax havens.

Panama Papers: Revelations and instability

Li Xiaolin.
Li Xiaolin

Nearly 40 years after the launch of Premier Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening Up economic program, a clear beneficiary is Li Xiaolin, daughter of Li Peng (Chinese premier from 1987-1998), who is also implicated in the scandal.

Li Peng rose to prominence in the Communist Party during the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising by declaring martial law in Beijing and ordering troops to massacre pro-democracy demonstrators.

Peng earned the moniker “the Butcher of Tiananmen Square” and was unwavering in his belief in strict government control of Chinese society.

President Xi Jinping attempts to continue that tradition by ordering all Chinese news outlets not to report the involvement of Chinese officials and their families in an international financial scandal.

“Find and delete reprinted reports on the Panama Papers,” reads an edict issued by China’s Internet Information Office. “Do not follow up on related content, no exception. If material from foreign media attacking China is found on any website, it will be dealt with severely.”

According to the China Digital Times, “By highlighting the hidden wealth of leaders’ family members, the [Panama Papers] leak strikes directly at one of the Chinese government’s greatest sensitivities at a time of deep economic inequality and suspicion over official corruption.”

Mao Zedong.
Mao Zedong

As Mao Zedong once observed, “People who live at subsistence levels … are not particularly interested in freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free enterprise as we understand it, or the secret ballot. Their needs are more basic: land, tools, fertilizers, something better than rags for their children, houses to replace their shacks.”

Dictatorships of the proletariat tend to secure, to a certain extent, their power by being the primary provider of food and shelter—under the theory that one rarely bites the hand that feeds it.

But as Terry Miller and Anthony Kim observe in the Heritage Foundation’s 2016 “Index of Economic Freedom” report, “Greater economic freedom can also provide more fertile ground for effective democratic governance. By empowering people to exercise greater control of their daily lives, economic freedom ultimately nurtures political reform by making it possible for individuals to gain the economic resources they need to challenge entrenched interest and compete for political power, thereby encouraging the creation of more pluralistic societies.”

In that sense, you might say Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping sold China’s Marxist oligarchs the capitalist rope with which to hang its dictatorial system.

The regime’s Panama Papers “corruption” may indicate the first baby steps in China’s long march from the depths of a self-imposed socialist dark age toward the broad, sunlit uplands of economic prosperity and, hopefully, eventual freedom.

Pro-democracy protestors gather in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Pro-democracy protestors gather in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989
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