“Zhao Family” How to say “crony capitalism” in China without getting into trouble (to date)

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We focus quite a bit of attention on China for a number of reasons. 1. Because it is such a thoroughly crony system of economics and politics. 2. Because we love the country. Americans have long loved the country. In fact, in my particular case my grandfather was one of the first westerners let into the place post Cultural Revolution. He went all over the provinces (as I remember) as an electrical engineering consultant. (I believe.) A beautiful statue of a lion, perhaps 40 pounds or more with ivory teeth was given to him and it stands in my uncle’s home. I wear gold cuff links my grandfather got on that trip often. China is a special place for me, though I’ve never been. It’s a special place for America. Heck, half our stuff was made there.

The country is a rising power, this is obvious. Even with its current economic challenges, and the bureaucratic mismanagement the medium to long term prospects for China are fantastic. But it must deal with the cronyism which saps its strength for it to truly reach its potential. Many Chinese understand this.

(From Today Online)

The use of “Zhao family” to refer to powerful figures has since gone viral.

“It is a rebellious deconstruction of official language in the Internet age,” Prof Qiao Mu, an associate professor of communications at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said in an interview. “In the past we called officials public servants, but in fact, it’s still a case of crony capitalism. In China, rich and powerful families are often the offspring of the Communist leaders. But it’s politically sensitive to say this out loud, so people are using ‘Zhao family’ instead, as a form of ridicule.”

Prof Qiao published three articles on a WeChat account he managed discussing the “Zhao family” and its members’ dominance in what some mockingly call “their country”, or China. The account has since been deleted, but the articles have been reposted elsewhere.

“‘Zhao family’ refers to rich and powerful families in China,” he wrote. “Their fathers seized political power, so their children are called ‘second-generation red’, people who have used their connections to retain power or amass enormous wealth in business.”

Click here for the article.