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.
HistoryThe 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:
- 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.
- Second, the booming Chinese economy caused a new wealthy class to emerge, many of whom demanded fair play and protection of their properties.
- 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 examplesThe following are some of the most famous crown princes:
- Son and daughters of Deng Xiaoping: Deng Pufang (邓朴方), chairman of the Handicapped Association; Deng Nan (邓楠), former vice minister Science and Technology
- Son of Chen Yun: Chen Yuan (陈元), governor of the State Development Bank of China
- Son of Bo Yibo: Bo Xilai, minister of MOFCOM
- Son of Xi Zhongxun: Xi Jinping, Vice President
- Son of Zeng Shan (曾山, former interior minister of CCP): Zeng Qinghong, former Vice-President of China
- Son of Huang Jing: Yu Zhengsheng, secretary of the CCP of Hubei, member of the politburo
- Son in law of Yao Yilin: Wang Qishan, Executive Vice Premier
- Son and daughter of Li Peng (as son of a martyr and adopted by Zhou Enlai, a member of Crown Prince Party, too):Li Xiaopeng (李小鹏), chairman of Huaneng Power Group; Li Xiaolin (李小林), president of China Power International
- Sons of Jiang Zemin:Jiang Mianheng (江绵恒), vice dean of the Chinese Academy of Science, director of several major SOEs such as Shanghai Auto, and the real controller of China Netcom; Jiang Miankang (江绵康), a major general of the PLA
- Son and Daughter of Zhu Rongji: Zhu Yunlai (朱云来), executive director of CICC; Zhu Yanlai (朱燕来), senior manager of the Bank of China (Hong Kong)
- Son of Wang Zhen, Wang Jun (王军) chairman of CITIC; Wang Zhi (王之), former chairman of Great Wall Group
- Son of Liu Shaoqi: Liu Yuan (刘源), lieutenant general of the military police
- Son of He Long, He Pengfei (贺鹏飞), vice commander of the Chinese Navy, lieutenant general
- Former son-in-law of Liu Huaqing (刘华清): Pan Yue (潘岳), vice director of the State Environmental Protection Administration
- Son of Chen Yi: Chen Haosu (陈昊苏), former vice minister of the Ministry of Culture
- 中共「太子黨」 ("Crown Prince Party" of the Communist China) (in Traditional Chinese) A name list and some problems.
- China's former 'first family' about the children of Deng Xiaoping
princeling in Japanese: 太子党
princeling in Chinese: 太子党