AskDefine | Define princeling

Extensive Definition

Crown Prince Party (Chinese: 太子党; pinyin: Tàizǐ Dǎng), or The Princelings, are the descendants of prominent and influential senior communists of the People's Republic of China. It is not a political party, (usually in the second-generation), but an informal, and often derogatory, categorization to signify those benefiting from nepotism and cronyism, by analogy with Crown Princes in hereditary monarchies.
The term was coined in the early 20th century, referring to the son of Yuan Shikai and his cronies. It later pointed to the relatives of the top four nationalist families; Chiang Kai-shek's kin, Soong May-ling's kin, Chen Lifu's kin, and Kong Xiangxi's kin. After the 1950s, the term pointed to Chiang Ching-kuo and his friends in Taiwan.


The latest crown princes are in mainland China. Many senior leaders often lobby directly or indirectly for their descendants and relatives to succeed them. Although some of them are good citizens and keep a low profile, many of them are perceived to be arrogant and undeserving of the fortune or the prominence they hold. By utilizing their fathers' privileges, they often place themselves above the law and foster the contagion of corruption. Some of these crown princes hold senior positions such as vice minister or above in their thirties, for which other ordinary cadres would struggle for decades. Others run companies involved in large scale corruption and even smuggle, these are called Official Speculators (or Guandao in Chinese). All of these misdeeds raised widespread sentiments of resentment and jealousy, and some crown princes have fallen victim to the trend of enmity that is apparent in China. Most political observers see the Crown Prince Party as having been at their pinnacle of power in the 1980s and had their power reduced after 1989 by a number of factors:
  1. First, not only did the Crown Prince Party cause some resentment among the general public, but they also caused resentment within the vast major of Party members who did not have a powerful relative; for example, Chen Yuan, son of Chen Yun; and Chen Haosu, son of Chen Yi lost their election in Beijing and had to be transferred to other positions.
  2. Second, the booming Chinese economy caused a new wealthy class to emerge, many of whom demanded fair play and protection of their properties.
  3. Third, as the public was unsatisfied with the plague of corruption and cronyism, with the resentment and discontent mounting to a degree that could wreak havoc on the CCP's reign, the CCP had to take some measures to appease these strong feelings.
One watershed event occurred during the 15th National Congress of the CCP in 1997. Some prominent figures of the Crown Prince Party suffered great losses as candidates. Xi Jinping (习近平), son of Xi Zhongxun (习仲勋), and Deng Pufang, eldest son of Deng Xiaoping, were narrowly elected as alternate members of the Central Commission of the CCP, but were listed on the tailend. Bo Xilai, son of Bo Yibo, was unable to get elected as an alternate member even though his father lobbied strongly for his son.
It is speculated that when Jiang Zemin was close to the end of his term for his age, however, he put many members of the Crown Prince Party into important positions to appeal to senior leaders of the CCP as a way to win their support for continuation of his influence. There is a trend of members of Crown Prince Party taking over power step by step. Of these, Yu Zhengsheng (俞正声), son of Huang Jing (黄敬, former mayor of Tianjin and ex-husband of Jiang Qing), already a member of the powerful politburo of the CCP; Wang Qishan (王歧山 in Chinese), son in law of Yao Yilin (姚依林, former vice premier and member of politburo ), mayor of Beijing; Xi Jinping, Bo Xilai, Zhou Xiaochuan, son of Zhou Jiannan (周建南, former minister of First Machinery Ministry and Jiang Zemin’s boss), governor of the PBOC, would play more active roles on the central stage of China politics in the near future, which may soon be proved during the 17th National Congress of the CCP.

Famous examples

The following are some of the most famous crown princes: In a publication, 226 crown princes were listed (see link below).

External links


princeling in Japanese: 太子党
princeling in Chinese: 太子党
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