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Oh Those Naughty Reds: The Chinese Communist Party Publishes a List of No-Nos

Skulduggery in high places has been the stuff of literature for centuries: the jealousy and paranoia of Othello. The licentious behavior of the pillars of French society in Voltaire. The hypocrisy of the French establishment in the Absurd Theater of former convict Jean Genet, a man familiar with human weakness at the bottom of society.

The common folk relish lifting the veil on the folly of queens and kings. The foibles of love has been a hot topic, from Henry VIII and the beheading of wives who could not be divorced to the lovers of the virgin queen, Elizabeth I of England to the scandalous rumors about the love life of the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia to the rivalry between Julius Caesar and Marc Antony over the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.

The hypocrisy of those who project an image of moral rectitude, the elite of the Chinese Communist Party, provides ample opportunity for a good laugh.

In China, corruption takes many forms. The outrageous privilege of princelings, the children of the party elite, has been making headlines for decades. But something new is happening in China. The anti-corruption campaign of President Xi Jinping reprimands the daddies, the men at the top of the power structure, shaming them publicly in the state-owned media.

Dare one say it: this seems like a class structure with privilege at the top. This is heresy! That is why the present leadership has made a religion of punishing corruption. The party elite cannot be caught behaving like capitalist roaders. The communist party has been preaching against class for sixty years. Lo and behold, it looks like they are part of an emerging class structure. If this is true, what does it say about party rule? I ask you, reader.

The titans of communism have historically been objects of fun in the underground, among dissident intellectuals, in whispers among the common people, but rarely in print and in public.

From the horrors of the purges at the court of the Red Tsar, the dictator Josef Stalin to the lusty peccadilloes of Fidel Castro, the tropical communist, those surrounding the powerful have kept their mouths shut at risk of imprisonment, exile or death. They have, so to speak, averted their eyes.

Decorum has been a hallmark of Chinese society for several millennia, from the exhortations of Confucius to the prescriptions of Chairman Mao.

In keeping with the anti-corruption campaign, the fifth generation of Chinese leadership has recently lectured party members, an elite class in a supposedly classless society.

In this age of instant exposure, even in a tightly controlled social media, the bame has changed. As I have been told by a producer of a China news digest originating outside the PRC, a female techie, "We have ways of getting around the firewall."

Those with the keys to the treasure house are riddled with corruption so extensive that their license to steal jeopardizes the entire future of one-party rule in China. So the leadership has taken to reprimanding its own in the state-controlled media.

We turn, dear reader, to the subject of money--gambling and outright theft are eternal emblems of human weakness. The party has corruption police chasing those who have stolen from the government at all levels to foreign countries to arrest them and repatriate the funds.

The party is preaching against extravagant eating and drinking, condemning the sin of gluttony. The party is also taking a stand against mistresses and adultery.

Since ancient times, the keeping of concubines by rich men has been considered a prerogative of power, so this is an especially amusing stricture.

(On the subject of household arrangements among wives and concubines in traditional China, see the director Zhang Yimou's film, "Raise High The Red Lantern.")

As though keeping a mistress was news. As though some of the more salacious biographies of Mao Zedong did not detail some of his more notorious predilections.
At the risk of becoming the object of a hack attack, I shall say no more, reader.

For these details, you are going to have to do your own research. (Hint: one might check the biography written by his longtime physician.)

Not much is said about women cadres engaging in similar antics.

Finally we turn to golf, the kinky habit of high-placed Chinese party members who must be admonished by their leaders to lay off the clubs.

This game is a foreign import, played on the new wave of newly created golf courses all over China, and in the current mood of Chinese nationalism, is branded by the party as a form of Western decadence.

The party frowns upon leaders taking to the links. There has been a downturn in new construction of golf courses in China as a result.

Be still my heart.

This comes at a moment when a new young novelist, Kenneth Kwan, has published a comedy of manners spoofing the wealthy Chinese of Singapore, who look down on the nouveau riche Chinese from the mainland.

The Evelyn Waugh of Asia, you might call young Kevin Kwan. "Crazy Rich Asians", the first of his books, is a hilarious beach read. It provides an excellent comparison of wealth and consumption of ethnic Chinese under the free market and the Market Stalinist systems. The wealthy Taiwanese and Singaporeans of Chinese descent win the conspicuous consumption game, hands down.

So in my new book, I am going to write about a new import from the West, a new form of decadence that is not traditionally thought of as Chinese. But you are going to have to wait for that one, dear reader, as it involves big, roaring, gleaming MOTORCYCLES on race tracks. The guru of motorcycle racing, owner and head of the school, just happens to be an old friend of this author, and my interview with him is EXCLUSIVE. Stay tuned for breaking news of creeping decadence.

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