Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of articles on the children of high-ranking Communist Party leaders. This series will appear on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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LONDON--Conversations in Chinese murmured throughout a casino, one of several advertised by bright neon signs in London’s vibrant Chinatown.
Entry to the casino simply required the showing of a passport for identification. Inside, dozens of tables were set up for the gamblers, most of whom appeared to be Chinese.
A young Chinese couple wearing T-shirts placed chips on numbers on the roulette table. They didn’t change their expressions as they watched the ball race around the roulette wheel. One guest leaned over a table while eating “chao fan,” or Chinese-style fried rice.
Casinos like this, with such names as “Empire” and “Gala,” in Chinatown are said to be the haunts of children of senior Chinese Communist Party officials and rich Chinese businessmen.
According to a British-born twentysomething of Chinese descent, these young scions often start gambling around 3 p.m., even on weekdays, when they should be attending school. Their huge bets often surprise the other guests.
But getting good grades and graduating do not appear to be the top priorities in this system. Often, the purpose of the students enrollment at schools in London is forging ties between powerful Chinese families and Western officials and business leaders.
The China News Service, a state-owned news agency that serves mainly overseas Chinese, has reported that some Chinese students studying in Britain buy fake diplomas from businesses specializing in forgeries.
One operator of such a business was quoted as saying that every year around 5,000 Chinese students in Britain can’t graduate because of poor grades.
Fake diplomas are popular among children of senior Communist Party officials. The children may not have to even work after returning home, and if they do, their credentials are not examined by companies, according to the operator.
A young man from China’s Fujian province who was working for a high-end restaurant in London said that when he returned to China temporarily, he was scolded by his father.
“Why have you come back? You must build a solid foundation for an overseas life,” the father said.
The young man is a “fu er dai,” or second-generation rich kid. He said he stays in Britain so that his relatives who are earning money in China can flee the country and smoothly settle down overseas in an emergency.
Shao Jiang, a 45-year-old former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, which was brutally crushed, now lives in exile in London.
Shao says Western governments and universities welcome children of Communist Party executives and rich Chinese and use their presence to build ties with China for their own interests.
Bo Guagua, the son of Bo Xilai, a 63-year-old former party heavyweight, was one of those rich kids studying in London. After studying at the prestigious Harrow School, he attended Oxford and lived a flashy life, stayed in a luxury condominium and frequented expensive restaurants.
Bo Guagua, now 24, also interacted with some Western businessmen, including Neil Heywood, a Briton whose was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing in November last year.
Heywood’s death triggered a huge political scandal involving Bo Xilai and his wife. Bo Xilai was sacked as party chief of the city of Chongqing in March and was suspended from the politburo the following month.
It is known that Bo Guagua and Heywood frequently exchanged e-mails.
* * *The previous installments of this series are available at:
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