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Chen Yonggui Lives Easy Life

by Anton Graham

What happens to disgraced former members of the chinese politburo? do they get sent home? are they jailed?

No. if the experience of chen yonggui is anything to go by, they are given a large apartment in peking with all mod-cons, and a car and chauffeur as well.

Chen yonggui was one of the most colourful political figures to arise during chairman mao’s cultural revolution of the late 1960s, having started out as a peasant from the village of dazhai in central china, which mao immortalised with the slogan “in agriculture, learn from dazhai”.

Semi-illiterate, but obviously not lacking in political cunning, chen rose to become a vice-premier and a member of the ruling politburo, and always appeared at political meetings in Peking dressed theatrically in peasant garb with a towel draped around his head as if he had just walked in from the fields.

But chen was a close political ally of former communist party chairman hua guofeng, and went down with him.

He was removed from office in 1981 after being accused of corruption, faking production figures, mis-using his power, resisting the moderate policies of the present leader deng xiaoping, and carrying out personal vendettas against opponents.

But according to the harbin daily, chen, 68, still has all the perks and conveniences of a senior party official, even though he now holds no official posts whatsoever.

The paper said, he is living in a fully-carpeted, four-room flat in a high-class apartment building in peking, and owns a 26 inch colour television, and a fridge, extraordinary luxury for an urban chinese, let along a peasant.

He is still receiving a high salary as well as an allowance for a maid, and has a “secretary” and a car at his disposal full-time. He is still allowed access to secret party documents.

Fascinating as such detail is of the private life of a former chinese political star, the main question is why the story was published at all.

There are two possibilities. chen’s present sumptuous life-style could be the result of protection he is receiving from senior leftist opponenbts to deng, and the newspaper article an attempot by deng and his allies to embarrass him.

Alternatively, and more plausibly, the story could have been published as bait for other un-repentant maoists.

Look, it says to the wavering hard-liners, you’ll still have all your privilages after you surrender your principles.

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