Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao (shown at left) is “controversial”; no question about that. Whether he’s grabbing headlines in China, Taiwan, or the United States, he tends to polarize people into “pro” and “con” camps, with his shameless self-promotion and his flamboyant giveaways of cars, cash, and other items.
Last week Chen made a splash in New York City by sponsoring a gourmet sit-down lunch for about 250 residents of the New York City Rescue Mission at the tony Loeb Boathouse restaurant in Central Park. The event turned into something of a donnybrook, however, as crowds of homeless hopefuls were turned away, and some of the lucky guests who made it inside found out they were not going to receive the cash they expected. The Associated Press reported:
Wads of cash filled wire baskets at the restaurant, with Chen waving some of the money in front of the guests. But when they discovered that they in fact would not be given any money, an uproar ensued, with some yelling, “We want it now!”
… Others waiting outside, unable to get in because they weren’t registered, booed and cursed Chen, yelling “liar” and “con man."
Chen, whose personal wealth is estimated to be more than $750 million, is frequently described as a recycling “entrepreneur,” a classic Horatio Alger success story, a free market saga of rags to riches. Albeit, most stories point out that Chen is “eccentric” and given to self-aggrandizement: His business cards read, “Most Influential Person of China,” “Most Well-known and Beloved Chinese Role Model,” “Most Charismatic Philanthropist of China” — and other personal honorifics Chen has bestowed upon himself.
However, while many news reports on Chen may offer unflattering descriptions that refer to his flamboyant, clownish ego-driven style, very few make any mention of the much more substantive issue concerning his connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which runs the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It’s not that difficult to uncover Chen’s CCP connections. An article this past January by Lu Chen in the Epoch Times entitled “Taking a Look at Chinese Tycoon Chen Guangbiao’s Ties to the Chinese Communist Party” notes: "A glance over Chen’s personal background and statements by his companies shows deep and extensive ties to the Chinese Communist Party."
Some of those ties are quite obvious. The Epoch Times article notes that he received a big boost from the communist mayor of Nanjing — one of China’s most important cities (population 8.16 million) — who “gave him a pat on the shoulder and said: ‘Guangbiao, demolition work just started in Nanjing City. I give you this project. All Nanjing people trust you.’ After that, Chen took charge of over 80 percent of demolition work in Nanjing.”
Among the many noteworthy signals indicating that Chen is a “Party man” are these points cited in the Epoch Times article:
• On many pages on one of his company’s websites, Chen can be found expressing thanks and gratitude to the Chinese Communist Party and its policies of reform.
• Chen’s company also recycles notices from the Central Propaganda Department calling on Party members to study Marxism and the theory of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
• One of Chen’s companies hosted a “red song party,” consisting of revolutionary communist singing, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Party in 2011.
• In an interview a Chinese newspaper in 2010, Chen said: “[Andrew] Carnegie paid back God, I pay back the Party!”
• Chen spent $30,000 on a half-page advertisement in the New York Times on Aug. 31, 2012, arguing that the Senkaku Islands — uninhabited land in the East China Sea disputed with Japan — are part of the PRC’s territory.
New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) reporter Peter Parks noted in January of this year that Chen has ties to the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department and had once even threatened to kill a Chinese investigative reporter. The reporter Chen Guangbiao is alleged to have threatened is Chen Lei of Southern People Weekly. Chen Lie told NTDTV regarding Chen Guangbiao: “He is close to the Central Propaganda Department. He became a national moral model and earthquake relief hero with an endorsement from CCTV [Central China TV].” CCTV, which now broadcasts in the United States, as well as most other countries, is one of the main propaganda organs of the CCP. CCTV describes itself as “an important mouthpiece of the Party, government, and people” and “China’s important ideological and cultural battle front.”
No journalist with even a rudimentary knowledge of the history of Communist China should have missed these obvious “clues” of Chen Guangbiao’s Communist Party leanings. But it appears that Chen could tattoo the visage of Chairman Mao on his forehead and have a hammer & sickle branded onto his nose and the Western press corps would insist on seeing this merely as more evidence of his “eccentricity.” For example, many reports of his latest Manhattan charity stunt reported on the fact that Chen utilized three dozen Chinese “volunteers” as waiters, dressed in uniforms of Communist China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). However, none of the reports we have seen even mentioned the word “communist.”
Here, for instance, is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time Report” on Chen’s New York City venture:
About three dozen volunteer waiters — many of whom state-run China Daily said were Chinese students studying in the U.S. — showed up donning uniforms similar to those once worn by soldiers in China’s People’s Liberation Army, bearing the words “Serve the People."
The WSJ piece even features two photos showing Chen surrounded by smiling Chinese “volunteers” wearing the green PLA uniforms and the blue “worker” uniforms (China under Mao was known as the “Land of the Blue Ants”) with the large communist red star symbol on their caps.
Of course, if a German “entrepreneur” had similarly hosted an event with servers wearing uniforms adorned with swastikas, the media mavens would still be furiously bloviating and hyperventilating — outside the smoldering ruins of the restaurant. But a Communist Party-approved “clown” is allowed to throw a public relations soiree featuring cadres dressed in the uniforms of the murderous thugs that tortured and killed tens of millions of Chinese, and the only criticism (if it can even be called that) leveled at him by the Wall Street Journal’s writer is that Chen is “eccentric” and has a “bizarre track record.” But certainly no mention of his privileged connections with, affinity for, and service to the totalitarian Beijing regime’s CCP.
Here’s how the Associated Press (as carried by TIME/CNN) handled this same part of the story:
Dozens of volunteer waiters sported green uniforms similar to those once worn by soldiers in China’s People’s Liberation Army, bearing the words “Serve the People."
Again, no mention of the “c” word: communist. Since most Americans are completely unfamiliar with the horrendous atrocities committed by the People’s Liberation Army (because the U.S. media have covered it up for three generations), mention of it evokes none of the horror that Americans automatically register toward the Nazi holocaust, Hitler, and the Gestapo.
One of the few commentators to expose Chen Guangbiao’s CCP ties is Mark C. Eades, an American writer and educator based in Shanghai, China, who noted Chen’s communist record in a blog for the Foreign Policy Association in January.
Chen Fits the Rule, Not the Exception
Disregarding differences of personal style, Chen Guangbiao fits the mold of “red capitalists” who have been either co-opted by the CCP or recruited directly from the ranks of the CCP to serve the Party as its new class of “entrepreneurs.”
Bruce J. Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has written extensively on the CCP’s control of China’s “capitalist” class. His books include: Red Capitalists in China: The Party, Private Entrepreneurs, and Prospects for Political Change (2003) and Wealth Into Power: The Communist Party's Embrace of China's Private Sector (2008).
In an article for the December, 2007 issue of The China Quarterly entitled “Integrating Wealth & Power in China — The Communist Party’s Embrace of the Private Sector,” Professor Dickson wrote:
Both the informal co-optation of [entrepreneurs] and the formal endorsement of recruiting entrepreneurs were designed with two goals in mind; first to seek co-operation between the state and private enterprises, which are responsible for most new growth and job creation, central elements of the CCP’s claim to legitimacy; and second, to prevent entrepreneurs becoming an organized opposition. As such, the practice of co-opting entrepreneurs has been an essential part of the CCP strategy for survival. At the same time, the alliance between political and economic elites, symbolized by the growing number of “red capitalists” — entrepreneurs who are also CCP members — is bringing new interests and new people into the political arena.
“Because of their close personal and professional ties,” Dr. Dickson continued, “and because of their shared interests in promoting economic growth, China’s capitalists and communist officials share similar viewpoints on a range of political, economic and social issues. In short, rather than promote democratic governance, China’s capitalists have a stake in preserving the political system that has allowed them to prosper. They do not pose an immediate threat to the CCP; indeed, they are among the Party’s most important bases of support.”
China’s “Capitalists” Sowing Lenin’s NEP
Professor Dickson’s somber analysis comports, of course, with observable, verifiable reality, but, unfortunately, it still expresses a minority viewpoint among so-called China experts. The accepted wisdom among establishment-approved Sinologists and reporters still perpetuates the myth that China has “gone capitalist” and that the ruling CCP is communist in name only. But now, more than three-and-a-half decades after the supposed “economic reforms” of Deng Xiaoping, it should be clearer than ever that the CCP has been following Lenin’s deceptive New Economic Policy (NEP). As we wrote in 2006:
Deng Xiaoping, the communist leader who launched China’s “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics” in 1978, is exalted both in the West and in China as the man who started China’s “reform” and its “transition” toward capitalism. But Deng was steeped in Marxism-Leninism. He made very clear that he was following Lenin’s NEP deception model when he told China’s Communist Party Central Committee in 1977:
In the international united front struggle, the most important strategy is unification as well as struggle.... This is Mao Tse-tung’s great discovery which has unlimited power. Even though the American imperialists can be said to be the number one nation in scientific and technical matters, she knows absolutely nothing in this area. In the future she will have no way of avoiding defeat by our hands.... What we need mainly is scientific and technical knowledge and equipment.
Since Deng’s time, many top communists — from China, as well as many other countries — have acknowledged the Leninist NEP design in China’s “state capitalism.” For instance, in an essay entitled “The Leninist Heritage of the Socialist Market Economy” in the September 6, 2007 Political Affairs, theoretical journal of the Communist Party USA, C. J. Atkins writes:
The development of such a form of capitalism controlled and regulated by the state, which Lenin time and again referred to as state capitalism, if directed carefully by a socialist state, would be not only advantageous, but even necessary, in an underdeveloped country….
Just as Lenin did in the 1920s, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has, since 1978, reached the conclusion that the liberation and development of the productive forces is the key to building the foundations for a transition to socialism.
“The rapid development of China over the past three decades,” Comrade Atkins continued, “has demonstrated the correctness of the CPC's overall approach…. Like Lenin, the CPC estimates that the socialist market economy is a formation which will cover decades of development.”
Chen Guangbiao and China’s other corporate CEOs and “entrepreneurs” are not capitalists; they are state capitalists, privileged creatures of (and craven servitors of) the CCP and the Chinese Communist state. We court danger when we view them in any other light.
Photo of Chen Guangbiao: AP Images