The tales of murder, conspiracy, and corruption that are leaking out from China regarding the Bo Xilai scandal have been remarkable to follow. Truth can often be much stranger than fiction and the scandal surrounding this ousted politician has managed to rock the Chinese government. Prior to his ousting, Bo was seen as somewhat of a populist hero in China with his crown jewel having been a strike against the corruption taking place in the government and business class. One of the most startling pieces of news to emerge from the scandal is the amount of wealth Bo Xilai and his family were able to acquire. As Bo rose through the ranks of the Communist party, his family was able to amass a fortune valued at approximately $160 million, mostly in shares of state owned conglomerates.
This revelation should cast a broader spotlight on the wealth of other Communist party leaders. The Chinese citizens should start to ask what other families have been participating in these sorts of activities. These are questions and concerns aided by a population newly armed with iPhones, which could spark another uprising. Free market capitalism and democracy may not be a perfect solution to all of a society’s ills, but it’s definitely better than the alternative.
Marisa A. Lenhard, CFA, CFP®